The Power of Acknowledged Weakness (Our Confessions of Faith)

First, credit to Jack Hayford's podcast entitled "The Power of Acknowledged Weakness" for inspiring this writing.

As I think about the various posts I've made on my metanoia, it is clear that I have been working through the process of undoing some of the "faith based" one-sidedness I see so much in this world. While I believe we are to stand in faith, I am often put off by the excessiveness this can take in some people. At times, it seems preachers tell us to only confess the positive when the reality of the situation isn't so positive, or conversely to avoid saying anything negative because that shows a lack of faith and gives place to the enemy. While it is easy to pull out a scripture here or there to support such claims, I find that when you look at the whole of the Bible, you see a more complicated (and honest) story.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (NKJV) says:

And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Paul's words are interesting here. He came in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. I can almost hear some preachers today:

"Paul, where was your faith? Don't you know that fear is the opposite of faith? Don't you know that perfect love casts out all fear? If you have fear it must be a deficiency of love or of the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Get refilled and you won't have fear!"

Yes, this is the formula taught today, and the formula is scriptural. But just because we've learned a formula doesn't mean our hearts are right with God and that we are trusting in anything more than the formula itself. Even when we think we are right, we are wise to remember that there is a greater fulness to God, and even in our most perfect state on earth, we do see but dimly. 1 Peter 2:18-24 (NKJV) says:

Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 'Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth'; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.

We love to claim the promise at the end of this passage. Jesus died for our sins and died so that we might have power over sin in our body. He died so that we can have healing from the presence of sin's attack on our body. But he did these things by what would be considered weakness in our carnal minds. When Jesus was reviled, he did not revile in return. When he was threatened, he did not threaten, but simply trusted in God who judges righteously. If we are misunderstood or mistreated and take it well, then this is a sacrifice to God, and it is to this that we are called. We need to understand that the wonderful glory we have in Christ we have because Jesus didn't retaliate but surrendered to what was apparent weakness, trusting in God. We are called to a similar surrender. Are we standing on the final promise alone (are we standing on confession of the words alone and having memorized certain scriptures) or are we standing on our weakness compared to Christ's glory and in our willingness to walk as He walked, even if He doesn't take us on the easy path?

In the podcast referenced above, Jack Hayford points out for common types of believers in relation to the promises of God's word:

  1. Strategist: This the the person who likes to find a way to make things work. To appear strong, this person has to work out a program. I think my issues with the Ministry of Strengths course was that this was a very strategist modality. But Paul said in the Corinthians passage above that his preaching and his teaching were not with enticing words of man's wisdom. The strategist works out his own way, and then prays the Lord to bless it. The Lord would say to the strategist, "get out of my way and I'll work."
  2. Defeatist: This person simply accepts that what is what is what. Displaying even an appearance of spiritual humility, this person simply "praises God anyway, whatever the will of God." This person may speak to past prayer that didn't work and assume a sickness or failing must simply be the will of God. The defeatist's defense is no defence. Defeatists don't defend themselves, but they don't let the Lord be their defence either. The defeatist presumes a negative situation is simply a mandate of God he must suffer, but he never invites God into the situation. The Lord would say to the defeatist, "if you'll stop sulking and denying that I may want to do something positive and let me in, I will work."
  3. Positivist: Every faith seems to have their positivist - from those in the occult to those in the Charismatic Christian movement. The very idea that the ideology is so widespread gives hint to the notion that there may be a truth within it, but the ideology itself doesn't cut it. Positivism, like many other isms, is a thing that often becomes substantial for its own sake alone - I am positive because I'm positive, vs. I'm positive because Jesus is truly making me that way through the inner working of His Spirit. The Lord may say to the positivist, "stop trusting in your positiveness, for it has become a separate idol to you before me."
  4. Religionist:  The religionist loves theology. He can point to the Word and often point out where others are wrong. I struggle with this myself, especially when confronting the extreme ideals of strategists, defeatists, and positivists. We see ourselves as right, and therefore as strong. While it is good to have correct doctrine, the religionist has faith in his knowledge of the Word rather than the Word Himself. We lose sight of the Savior forest due to the theology trees. To the religionist the Lord will say "your theology does not impress Me, for I am the embodiment of it all." We must remember, we see but dimly, and we only know in part (See 1 Corinthians 13:121 Corinthians 13:12 (ESV)
    For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

The Lord though, is looking for people who say "I don't have it, but I'm in touch with the One who does." People who will come and acknowledge their own weakness: the weakness of their own plans, their own slogans, their own passiveness and apparent spirituality, and even their own knowledge of the Word.

We need to come to the place of the apostle Paul where we come in weakness and in fear, not trusting in anything within ourselves, but simply leaning on God, trusting that God will support His word, not through us, but through His Spirit and Power.

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