By: Carrie Vipperman
“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)
Weakness. Fear. Trembling. Any of those words resonate with you? (If you say no, I don’t believe you.) And what does this have to do with Advent? (We’ll get there.) In a world that boasts in strength, courage and bold action, when times of weakness and fear come, we are often left feeling inferior, in need. We are left feeling less than we should be. So, why would Paul boast in feeling weak and fearful?
Because his weakness pointed to Christ’s strength.
The truth is that Christians should recognize that they are less than they should be. BUT, we also shouldn’t stop there. Accepting this truth about ourselves should then lead us to an even more important realization: Christ makes up all that we lack. He becomes our strength. His indwelling Holy Spirit makes us enough. But in order to see His strength displayed in our lives, we have to recognize that we are weak. In order to tap into His courage, we have to acknowledge our fear and trembling and then ask for His help. We have to have humble ears that know we need to listen in order to hear Him whisper “Do not fear, for I am with you.”
And we can find encouragement to boast in our weakness by remembering how God has used weak vessels in order to reveal His supreme strength in the past. In fact, one of the best lists you’ll find is in the first chapter of Matthew. Matthew introduces the life-changing story of Jesus’ birth with a list of weak and flawed humans scattered throughout Christ’s geneological line. It’s filled with unlikely candidates, full of human failings, and weakness.
But, through this line of imperfect people, God entered in. He sent Himself, the strongest, in the weakest physical form – a baby. Completely dependent on others to feed, care, and protect Him, He modeled for us in the most tangible way possible what it is like to exist in weakness but possess the strength that God supplies.
The complex truth of Christ coming to earth is that He was completely human and completely God. To be human is to be weak, but to be God, is to be strong. To be human is to be tempted to sin, but to be God, is to be completely holy, perfect and set apart from sin. To be human is to have fear from time to time, but to be God is to be the one who quiets the fear.
To be human is to fear. To be God is to quiet fear Click To Tweet
While on earth, Jesus gave us the ultimate example of what it looks like to exist in weakness but have God’s perfect strength.
And, Paul followed his example. He says “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)
Paul recognized his weakness and didn’t hide it or allow it to limit him. He knew the task God had given him would require God’s strength. His weakness would limit him, but God’s strength would enable him.
Paul acknowledged the fear and trembling he felt because the courageous child of God is not the one who pretends they are fine but the one who reminds themselves in times of fear that God is with them. The only true remedy to fear is remembering and relying on the truth that God says He is with us. And, He is with us because Jesus came. Jesus is Immanuel, God with us. In Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago in a humble stable to a teenage girl, our remedy for weakness and fear was born.
Our remedy for weakness looked very weak: a newborn babe Click To Tweet
As we prepare for Advent, remembering the coming of our Savior, may we take Him our weaknesses in exchange for His strength. May we take Him our fears and place our trembling hands in His so that we can receive His courage and peace. May we realize that the baby who slept in a feeding trough was born because He has everything we need. His strength is without compare. His peace is perfect beyond our understanding. His goodness is unfailing. Praise the Father. He came.