Have you noticed? It’s football season–everywhere. Think of the mascots. The Vikings. The Norwegian Lutherans had a liturgy that read, “Spare us from the Vikings.” They were terrorizing. We also have the Timberwolves. Teams usually pick aggressive names, like the Bears, the Lions, the Tigers. Could we use something nicer? How about the Minnesota Lilacs?
Heres one: the Minnesota Lambs. Laughable? Then think of the Son of God, the one through whom and by whom all things were made, the King over all Kings, the Lord over all Lords. When he comes to the earth he created, he comes not as Lord but as Lamb. John saw it: “Behold! The Lamb of God.” Hard to think of an animal more defenseless. He came not to dominate but to die, “not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).
The cross is Jesus at his weakest–and God at his strongest. Foolishness to the wisdom of the world, but wiser than man’s wisdom and stronger than man’s strength. One cannot get more vulnerable than hands stretched out, nailed to a crossbar. There is the helpless Son of God, and there is the power of God unto salvation.
So how do we overcome the enemy, far stronger than any terrorist? By the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 12:11). How are we to walk in the world? Jesus said, “I send you out as lambs among the wolves.” Hey, thanks. We’ll get ripped apart. What’s up?
When Paul was Saul, he was aggressive and competitive. He had by his own estimation “advanced beyond [his] contemporaries, so zealous was I for the tradition of my fathers” (Galatians 1:16). But he learned a new way of living. He was given a thorn in the flesh. It was painful, so Paul prayed like he did when others were in pain. It didn’t work. He prayed again–and again. No change. Instead, a word from heaven: “My grace is sufficient for you. For my strength is made perfect in weakness.” So Paul concluded, “When I am weak, then I am strong.” The former all-star didn’t like being weak, but he came to understand how God worked through weakness. It became a strategy for ministry and a way of life. He found that “the Spirit helps us in our weakness” (Romans 8:16), not in our strength.
We don’t like being weak either, so if we are weak, we may pretend that we are strong. Fake it ‘til we make it, right? We give the appearance of strength, but that doesn’t help us to connect with people. The Pharisees pretended to be holy. In fact they were thieves and murderers, sinners in religious clothes. They had no idea how to walk as lambs. Do you?
So give me a “thumbs up’ if what you read shows appropriate weakness. Andrew, our first-born of six, wrote this email to his siblings a few years back: “I want to head into this New Year with no regrets…One of my biggest regrets is how I have not been gracious toward you…I know many times I have been harsh and I am sorry. I wish I had specific things to point out…I am sad and sorry and ask you to forgive me. With love, Andrew.” Way to be weak, Andrew. You helped to change the atmosphere in our home!
Go the way of the cross. Your weakness matches well with God’s strength.