Thursday, November 22, 2012

Weak is good, right?

The last six weeks has been a fresh journey in discovering my weakness (which I use as a catch all for everything from physical limitations to sin). Many voices have spoken into this ongoing journey - which isn't done yet by many miles.

A phrase I read several months ago has rung in my ears Manure grows extraordinary, tangible fruit. 

And then I read Francis Spufford's sweary book Unapologetic, which seems flawed in many ways but is so helpful against triteness. Railing against the atheist bus's callous "So enjoy yourself" he says we need better than that.

Enjoyment, he says, is great but it's not everything.
Enjoyment is great when you're young, fit and wealthy - but doesn't carry much weight when things go wrong.

Today, my in-laws are both in hospital. A 33 year old pastor who I met once died suddenly - which is clearly more of a struggle for those who knew him better but I'm 33 and its jarring when someone your own age dies. We spent a weekend with a couple whose first partners had both died. One of my closest friends is ill with a condition that they can't quite figure out. I'm well, but I'm acutely aware of chaos around me.

Spufford suggests: "Everything you fear is true. And yet." And yet.
Christ doesn't make everything go away, but I can acknowledge the rubbish and say "And yet."

Spufford's book is subtitled "Why, despite everything Christianity can still make surprising emotional sense."
I'm also reading Pete Scazzero's The Emotionally Healthy Church.
And I can see Graham Beynon's book Emotions from where I'm sitting, and a set of essays from Harvard calling for leaders to have strong Emotional Intelligence.
Scazzero calls for us to accept vulnerability.
A month before I even heard of Scazzero I heard Paul Tripp say: "I'm a man in the middle of my own sanctification." I think I used to like to think I was somewhere past the middle. We're all unfinished, and this is good.

Scazzero's book left the friend who recommended it to me weeping. It hasn't quite done that for me, but I think that might be because it's arrived a month into my current wrestling with my weakness and incompleteness and limitations rather than being the first voice. Nonetheless a helpful friend to guide my steps.

Not to introspection - far from it - seeing my weaknesses and sin I'm freshly aware that looking at me will do me no good whatsoever. If it depends on me then its game over.
And yet. Christ. 

Beginning, again, to see my own weakness liberates me. I've been here before. And again. I am (I so wanted to write I've been...) quick to assess others. I am quick to think my self to be in the right. Read, self-righteous. But if I'm just  on my way why should I expect others to be the finished article? And if collectively, together, we're all unfinished people we might help one another...  and weak people adorn the good news of Jesus because he's the kind of hero that weak people need. Not an intimidating hero to inspire me, but one who came into the world and died for me, and walks with me.

I've answered the question "Isn't Christianity a crutch for the weak" by showing that Christianity is strong. Today, at least, I'm glad that Christ is for the weak.

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