We have all been conditioned to operate from our strengths. We are told to find out what our strengths are. We even have analysis worksheets we can fill out to help us discover our strengths. The world tells us to highlight our strongest characteristics and make a nice bullet list on our resume when seeking a job.
The apostle Paul had a pretty impressive resume as it relates to his individual strengths and qualifications. He was a religious expert who was highly educated by the best teachers. He claimed to be more enthusiastic than any of his peers when it came to obeying the law. Yet, later in his life he chose not to brag about any of those things but instead he highlighted his weaknesses and the areas of his life where he had the most struggles. Was Paul delusional? No, he just discovered how he was able to experience God's power in its fullness - when he wasn't depending on his own strengths and abilities but learning to trust God because of his weaknesses. By recognizing when left to his own strength and abilities Paul concluded he had little if anything to offer. Embracing his weaknesses and at the same time fully leaning on God to provide meant that unless God showed up he would utterly fail. And according to Paul, that's where God's presence was most evident.
Holiness Beyond Worldly Logic
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV
One of the core values that we embrace as a church is the value of holiness. We do not believe that holiness and living the holy life is about fulfilling a checklist of moral acts and deeds. Holiness is more about stepping out of the boat onto the uncertain waters of our circumstances believing in the power of Christ to provide the ability to walk - not because we have calculated the probability of being able to walk on water in and of ourselves, but because we are captivated and lost in wonder at our Lord's instructions to come to him (see Matthew 14:22-33).
Holiness is about realizing that you have found a treasure that is priceless and more valuable than anything else this world has to offer and you gladly give all that you have and all that you are in order to possess, or better yet be possessed, by that treasure (see Matthew 13:44-46).
Jesus told a sinful person once that when a person comes into contact with the saving power of God through the holy Spirit that out of that person will flow Living Waters. Holiness is nothing more than the natural flow of life when we allow ourselves to be fully immersed and carried away in the love of God.
This natural flow of the life of God in us may cause us to appear, as it did with the apostle Paul, as a bit 'crazy' or 'out of our minds' because it goes against the current of the world's rationale. However, holiness (being fully immersed in His presence) is the exact place where we were met and created to dwell.
In the light of the Apostle Paul's life and teachings, it becomes evident that he was not crazy but rather, he was onto something profound. Paul's emphasis on weakness as a conduit for God's power, as seen in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, is a powerful reminder that our strength lies not in our own abilities but in our reliance on God. Despite society's norm of showcasing strengths, Paul made a radical shift, celebrating his weaknesses because through them God's power was manifested. Similarly, our pursuit of holiness may seem counter-cultural or even 'crazy' to some, but it is in this very pursuit that we experience God's transformative power in our lives.
Despite societal perceptions, pursuing holiness does not have to be an isolated endeavour. At Southeast, we believe that we are part of a larger community of believers who encourage and support one another. As we strive for holiness, let us remember God's promise in Hebrews 13:5 (NIV), "...He will never leave nor forsake us". Let us ask God for His plan, take daily steps towards it, even if small, like listening to a song or reading a book, and live out holiness in tangible ways. In doing so, we become living testimonies of God's love and power, reflecting Christ in our lives and inspiring others to walk on water with Jesus Christ. So, was Apostle Paul onto something? Absolutely! His life and teachings serve as an enduring testament to the transformative power of embracing weakness and pursuing holiness. Amen!