Theology of Weakness

The strong survive.

Not sure about you, but I’ve heard that statement a few times in my life.  It’s embedded in our culture – the movies we watch, songs we listen to, shows on TV, etc.  The one with the most money wins.  The strongest wins the competition.

In sports and other competitions, this mentality serves people well.  And why not?  If you work hard for the trophy, and your work ethic gives you a leg-up on your competitors, then you deserve to win.  All of my strong-willed, competitive friends shout in agreement!

Because this thinking is embedded in our culture, it’s gone beyond just competitions and sports games.  It’s leaked into life.

If you’re not first, you’re last!

Ah yes, gotta love Talladega Nights.  But isn’t that how some people live?  They may not have that motto tattooed on their forehead, but their actions give them away.

God’s economy is different than the worlds.  We read this all throughout our Scriptures.  There is, woven throughout the Bible, a theology of weakness.  We see it in Moses when he runs into the desert and spends 40 years in obscurity, humility, and weakness – only then to be used by God in big ways.  We see it when Jacob wrestles with God and finally admits his brokenness (claims his own name instead of pretending to be someone else) – and walks away from the encounter limping.

This Theology of Weakness culminates on the cross of Jesus.  Criminals were killed on crosses, not Gods.  Yet there God was. In the world’s eyes, it was the height of weakness. To God, however, it was the only way.

What the world didn’t know was that true strength comes from weakness.  That’s the picture of the cross.  That’s the life we are called to.  The Apostle Paul has this in mind when he laments about the “thorn in his side” – through his own, personal weakness he finds God’s strength.

My Grad School professors called this way thinking Cruciformity.  To live a cruciform life was to be shaped by the cross of Jesus…to see the world through cross-shaped glasses.  Jesus embraced ultimate weakness – being put to death – so that He could be raised up.

When we embrace weakness, it’s then we find God’s strength to live an abundant life.

Pete Scazerro talks about the Theology of Weakness in his book The Emotionally Healthy Church.  My biggest takeaway from that section of the book?  Being Ok with not being Ok.

Here’s how Pete talks about this theology of weakness:

  • Admitting we all have pains and losses, and instead of ignoring them, we enter into them, learning how to properly grieve.
  • Naming the difficult situation we find ourselves in – be it a cancer diagnosis, a divorce, or some other disappointment.  When we do this we acknowledge that we aren’t superheroes.

Doing this results in two dynamics:

  • We are closer to our suffering Savior – a God who is not a stranger to pain and loss; and…
  • We relate more closely, and offer more compassion, to those hurting around us.

May we, today, grow in awareness of our own pain and loss; and may that awareness draw us closer to a God who is with us in the midst of of it all.

And when we win (because winning & being first isn’t a bad thing), may we not allow that to define us – may we be whole…recognizing that God can and will use all the experiences of our lives, the good and the bad.



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