Christianity is for the Weak
By Mike Herrnstein
Those were the words written on a homemade sign in front of a table set up under a shady tree on the UCLA campus four summers ago during a campus visit with our daughter. Saying, “I can’t pass this up,” there was a triple eyeroll from my ex-wife, daughter, and son before they agreed to go on ahead as I made my way over to the table. Remembering the Apostle Paul’s words from 2nd Corinthians, I said, “There is strength in weakness, my friend.”
“And this is what He said to me: ‘My grace is enough for you; my power comes to perfection in weakness.’ So I will be all the more pleased to boast of my weaknesses, so that the Messiah’s power may rest upon me.” –2 Corinthians 12:9 (NET)
The young man behind the table stood up with a smile, extending his open hand. It turns out he was a young pastor from an LCMC church in Pasadena, looking to engage in a conversation with some college students. We exchanged some pleasantries and then I caught up with the others ahead.
In 2 Corinthians 12:7-8, we read that Paul prayed to the Lord three times to take away a “thorn” given to him in his flesh before receiving the reply above. The difference in tone between 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians is striking.
With confidence, Paul writes 1 Corinthians giving instruction as well as taking the church at Corinth to task in some of their practices for not revealing the Gospel Kingdom in community. He writes his beautiful poem on love in chapter 13 and finishes strong with the resurrection visions in chapter 15.
When writing 2 Corinthians, the passage of time had beaten Paul down physically and emotionally. His troubles in Ephesus (Acts 19:23-41) humbled him. He would write this epistle on the way back to Corinth to confront the unknown. But he was doing it from a place of greater strength spiritually.
I don’t have a favorite book in the Bible any more than having a favorite child. Each book speaks to different times and conditions in this life and in the lives of the ancients. On July 5th, I will be reflecting on 37 years of life in a wheelchair. For me the day marks the turning point when God went from being a concept to a presence. And slowly His “power coming to perfection in weakness” is being made manifest.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your mercy and strength in weakness. Amen.