God’s home more in vulnerability than in power—at least by the way humanity defines power. The Bible continually exposes the humanity of its characters, Jesus included, as God has willed it this way.
Indeed, this very vulnerability is the power of God. Everything of grace is implicit of this immense power of love manifested in humble openness.
This power is greatly paradoxical.
Take, for instance, early teen Mary, the mother of Jesus.
“Pregnant virgin” might be an oxymoron to us, but those were the real biblical circumstances for Mary and Joseph, revealing the Lord’s vulnerability; the power in the Divine plan to construct a Christmas story wrought with real-life struggle.
As I was reminded recently, Mary’s vulnerable acceptance of the Angel Gabriel’s revelation (Luke 1:26-38) that she would be pregnant with the Saviour, pre-marriage, implied great harm—she could have been disowned by her family and by her betrothed, Joseph, and even stoned to death for apparent adultery. The event of pregnancy potentially threw her whole life into disarray. That Mary and Joseph humbly complied with the will of God is a miracle of vulnerability.
What a backdrop for the birth of Jesus!
Indeed, Jesus grew up in circumstances of alleged illegitimacy and, with Mary and Joseph, grew in faith as a result, knowing God’s plan intimately however much it was disparaged.
God exposed his Son, and his Son’s mother and father, to the scorn of derision just so he, as Jesus, could identify with the weakest.
The Vulnerability of Grace
We’re strongest with God, and most capable at life, when we’re found honest in our weakness; humbly vulnerable despite temptations to pride.
It’s a paradoxical strength to own our weakness.
It is strength for what this shows others; the vulnerable are consummate in grace and are never more capable of love and being loved.
Grace is bold and unafraid for the vulnerability it volunteers for the quest of others—so that they might be comfortable, assured, and at home with others as well of their selves.
Love’s strength is equally bold. It spends itself for others without thought of itself. In that way, love exemplifies faith, and a hope beyond foreseeable vision. This is because, for love, the quest for others is the key to life; without it, life is nothing.
God can be completely trusted in this: love is seasoned in a vulnerable grace that elects for others, first, over self. Perfect grace has nil self-interest. That’s vulnerability! That’s God!
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.
Acknowledgement: Pastor Anthony Palmieri, for his illustration of Mary, December 4, 2011.