Good writing, with a strong point and with life oozing out.

Strength in Weakness

March 26, 2007

I’m trying to get my reading done for the meeting next month, but it’s not easy with the recurring explosions of thought that rock my world. I’m barely into John Caputo’s The Weakness of God, and I’m already staring off into space.

In his intro, he writes compellingly of the weakness of the Kingdom of which Jesus spoke, and out of which Jesus lived. Caputo sees the Kingdom as an event, first and foremost, and suggests that the subversive power of the Kingdom is not its strength, but its weakness.

It only calls to us, without much more force or apparence than a gentle breeze. But, like that same breeze, it is refreshing and constant and compelling. We don’t live out the Kingdom by our strength; don’t enact it by force; don’t expect it to overwhelm us or build itself. We don’t expect it to come with much finality or to offer us much satiety. We only expect it to continue to call, quietly beckoning us to something larger, something better.

This Kingdom eschews power for what Caputo calls ‘weak forces’: patience, forgiveness, peace, kindness, grace. This Kingdom foolishly prefers the one over the 99, and promises us much suffering in exchange for doing good. (It strikes me that the famous fruits of the Spirit– love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control– are certainly desirable, compelling, and disarming. But they are not strong forces that announce or justify themselves. As the Apostle Paul says, against such things there is no law, but no one’s exactly making laws to enforce them, either.)

Jesus’ living object lessons– lilies, sparrows, the poor, the mourning, the dead– are all imbued with with a subversive weakness that mysteriously overcomes the strong forces of the world. Never quick enough to make me happy, but just well enough to keep me answering that call.

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2 Responses to “Strength in Weakness”

  1. I’d like to borrow it when you’re all done and everything, friend.

  2. Maranda says:

    How about redifining strength? Is it not more powerful, more moving, to be touched by grace than by force? It certainly takes more strength to enact the fruit of the Spirit toward others than to simply react or manipulate.

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