Day 35: God’s Power In Your Weakness – 40 Days of Purpose-Driven Life

Purpose #4: You Were Shaped for Serving God

Point to Ponder: God works best when I admit my weakness.

Verse to Remember: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” — II Corinthians 12:9a (NIV)

Question to Consider: Am I limited God’s power in my life by trying to hide my weaknesses? What do I need to be honest about in order to help others?

[Read More] thoughts on Day 35 of Rick Warren‘s Purpose-Driven Life* including a major discussion of Transformational Powerlessness versus Systems Theory.

Today’s reading comes at a very opportune moment. I just finished an absolutely brilliant book by Ervin Laszlo on Systems Philosophy, which quite frankly is the most reasonable and plausible book on philosophy I’ve ever read. He does a brilliant job of integrating scientific, psychological, and empirical insights into a coherent vision of reality, addressing many of the deep-rooted fallacies I found in other philosophical systems.

However, I was surprised — though perhaps I shouldn’t have been — when at the very end he used this as the basis of a literally “New Age” approach to life. This is back in 1974, before the term acquired its modern occult connotations, but the basic Eastern bias is already present. In his view, ethics derives from a focus on harmony and “reverence for natural systems” — and accepting humanity’s place as just another natural-cognitive system within those. At one level, his social ethics are remarkably compatible with the teachings of Christ, since they can even justify concepts like “loving your enemies.” I found myself wondering, just what difference does it make that we believe in a transcendent Father God outside the natural systems of the universe?

While some may think such questions dangerous heresy, I actually believe they are essential if we are to truly worship God “in spirit and in truth” rather than implicitly accepting the biases of our historical tradition. And in fact, I got my answer today, in a way that is much more awe-inspiring now that I better understand the question.

The answer, basically, is that if man is the highest form of consciousness in existence, then my understanding of my own strength and wisdom is my greatest asset. However, if there is a purposeful, omnipotent, all-wise Father God watching over me, then my healthy understanding of my own weakness is my greatest asset — because that allows me to tap into His strength and wisdom. And that makes all the difference. In fact, the lack of such an understanding of Father God arguably explains why both systems theory and New Age philosophy have been so, well, impotent.

Rick builds on this vision of weakness by pointing to the model of the apostle Paul:

1. Admit your weaknesses
2. Be content with your weaknesses
3. Honestly share your weaknesses
4. Glory in your weaknesses

I remember back in my early twenties, as I read the biographies of great saints, thinking that God wouldn’t use me because I did not have any big weaknesses. Hoo boy! God sure cured me of that illusion. 🙂 In fact, now I am convinced God is going to use me to do incredibly huge things (like reinventing Western civilization), because I now know I am completely messed up — and yet His grace is greater still.

Ain’t God good?

Prayer: God, I am frequently appalled by my selfishness, self-righteousness, slothfulness, and pride — and I probably don’t even know the half of it! Yet, you know my weaknesses even better than I do, but you still love me and believe in me. Not because of any intrinsic competence of my own, but because I am your child. And because I am your child, I can dare to dream big dreams — as long as they are Your dreams. For then they are dependent on Your wisdom and power, and I just need to focus on being obedient and humble. Help me to faithfully do my part, and let You do Yours. I ask this in Jesus name, Amen.