The Strengthening Weakness of Love

As Christians, we sometimes forget what Christ really brought – what He really brings – into this world. We find it easy to place our message on a bumper sticker, or to put it on a t-shirt, or to make a really cool song out of it. It’s easy to sign a petition or pass a piece of legislation, but we have to ask ourselves, “Is this what Christ really came for?”

Would Christ go to the Republican National Convention? Would He partake in the march against homosexual marriage? Would Jesus really Occupy Wall Street? Would He mock the Republican candidates, or call Obama a Nazi? If we easily see Christ doing any of these things, we must ask ourselves if we are worshiping a Christ of our own invention; if we cannot see Christ doing these things, we must ask why we choose to do so in His stead.

God is omnipotent and powerful, there is no denying that; but out of His love to us He is weak. It is in this weakness that He is ultimately, eternally, and infinitely strong. Love makes one weak because by its very nature it requires sacrifice and self-giving. In the mere act of creation we see God’s weakness displaying His strength. With the mere mention of creation, He brings it about, yet the act itself is one of sacrifice. Here we see His strength in creation, but His weakness in sacrifice.

On the cross we see the strength of God crushing sin of death, but this strength is only seen due to the weakness of His love, His willingness to die on our behalf that He might remove death from our nature.

I am not trying to say that God is not omnipotent – far from it – but instead drawing light to the fact that within the bounds of love the world could turn upside down; what is strong could be weak and what is weak could be strong. In a strong world, in the world of the Übermensch (Nietzsche’s “Superman”), the one who is able to enforce his will on others is the strong one. In a weak world, the one Christ displayed to us, the greater the servant, the more power he has. This is quite the paradox, that the weaker we act, the stronger we really are. Such is the mystery of God’s love.

Where does this leave us Christians in the 21st century? Should we continue to make power plays for political offices? Should we continue to push “our guy” to take charge of the nation? Should we pray for the day that we control the schools, the government, and make this a “Christian nation” once again (or for the first time)? Is this really what the strengthening weakness of love looks like?

Perhaps we as Christians need to reconsider what it is to have strength. Perhaps we need to realize that strength is found in weakness. Hope is not found in acquiring a political goal, but in the self-emptying act of service towards those who cannot repay us.

The love of God is weak enough to cause God to stoop down to become a man. It is weak enough to grab that girl who suffers from life. It is weak enough to cause our all-powerful God to serve humans (for what is love if not service?). The love of God is weak enough to look at the young man intent on a life of self-destruction and long for the young man to turn around to his original purpose, which is Christ. The love of God is weak enough to wander through the hospital wards soothing the broken bodies, sacrificing for the sick, and giving grace to those who can no longer continue.

The love of God is weak enough to take the almighty Eternal and place Him within the womb of the Theotokos. The love of God is weak enough to cause the Eternal to walk where we walk, to experience the pain that numerous victims worldwide have experienced. The love of God is weak enough to cause Christ to give His life that we might have life. But the love of God is strong enough to ensure that all of this has an actual, eternal effect.

The love of God is strong enough to grab the girl who suffers from life and give her a new life. It is strong enough to draw humans to love God as well and serve Him (for what is love if not service?). The love of God is strong enough to look at the vapid young man and convict him of his ways; it is strong enough to turn the young man from death to life. The love of God is strong enough to wander through hospital wards proclaiming that He is the ultimate healer, that in His love all will be made whole someday.

The love of God is strong enough to shape and save our nature through His glorious Incarnation.  The love of God is strong enough to cause us to walk where the Eternal has walked and is walking. The love of God is strong enough to cause Christ to raise from the dead that we might have life.

If God’s love displays His eternal strength through weakness, then what should this say of us mere Christians? Shall we continue to pursue the power on display in the world? Certainly there is nothing wrong with standing up for justice in the public square, but should this be our primary vehicle for displaying God’s love?

Christ came down as a king, but never claimed the seat of Rome. He came down as a ruler, but to a kingdom without a border. Christ came down as the Lawgiver, yet made no declarations or decrees for the nations to follow. If we become a people who seek after kingships, after controlling borders, after laws then we have forgotten what Christ accomplished.

The millions of humans who are abducted into slavery every day don’t need another Christian song or another tract; they desperately need the love of God to rescue them from their plight and restore their humanity. The millions of homeless people don’t need another sermon on how they’re worthless or how trusting in God will make things better; they need food, they need shelter, they need help (even if they’re crazy, this doesn’t make them not human; all are fallen from God, so all are crazy in degrees, the man who mumbles to himself is only slightly crazier than you). Those who are hurting, lost, in despair, wondering about the next paycheck, suffering from abuse, don’t need another law, another rally, another city to occupy, another mega-church, another politician to save us all; they need only Christ, they need His love, they need His followers to cease seeking after the worldly idea of power and instead become weak that they might truly become strong.

In short, the world doesn’t need more Christians attempting to live up to the standards of their culture; it needs more Christians attempting to live up to the standards of Christ. The world needs people who display their strength in their weakness, and this is only possible through Divine love.

4 thoughts on “The Strengthening Weakness of Love

  1. Hmmmm…. I certainly applaud the theme and message. …. “With the mere mention of creation, He brings it about, yet the act itself is one of sacrifice. Here we see His strength in creation, but His weakness in sacrifice.”

    I may be missing something, but I’m not aware that God’s creating cost Him anything nor required sacrifice.

  2. God plus nothing is maximally great. God plus something else is less than God. To create something means that God must allow something less than Himself to exist. To allow free will creatures means that God must allow something less than Himself to exist that can also rebel against Him.

    By allowing something lesser than Himself to exist and therefore to care for it (thus giving into the needs of that which is less than Himself) is the sacrifice.

    Does that help?

    1. I would also add that before God freely chose to create He knew that His creation would rebel against Him and, hence, that His Son would become incarnate and ultimately sacrifice His life on the cross for the sake of His creation. He knew this before hand, yet He still freely chose to create. God’s creating led to the most important sacrifice ever made.

  3. You still haven’t found the “cancel email alerts to AKron” yet I see.
    I totally agree with your point of view, especially what you had to say in the last three, or so paragraphs. It’s just all the stuff on top that still has me chasing my tail. I think you and Joshua are super great guys, but when you start talking about God creating things or Jesus I just don’t know what to think. Mostly I think the brain goes into park.
    Since it sounds like all we have is our opinion about what Jesus might do, I guess that’s all we’ve ever had. So let me have a little fun with it? First, Jesus would round up all the Christian church leaders (Joshua is invited, of course), and tell them he wants his cut of the action. Royalties, baby! After that he’d take supreme control, and dismantle 2000 years of built up dogma. He’d throw the Christian music industry out of the temple along with the TV Evangelists. Anybody using the name of Christ as a selling point in his or her political campaign would immediately be turned into either and elephant, or jackass, whichever party applies.

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