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>Living Faith: Life in the Kingdom

A World Where Weakness Wins

A number of years ago, I was studying the seven churches in Revelation, and noticed a phrase I never forgot. The remarkably faithful church at Philadelphia had only “a little strength.”

The believers at Philadelphia had kept Christ’s word and not denied His name—characteristics that you would expect in a strong church. Yet Jesus honors them by speaking of them as the church with a little strength.

I should not have been surprised, because, in the kingdom, weakness wins. The meek, or the humble, inherit the earth. Those with “little strength” triumph.

In the kingdom, heroes of faith are those who “out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens” (Hebrews 11:34).

In the kingdom, “God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty” (1 Corinthians 1:7).

In the kingdom, “When I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

Christians tend to speak of “successful Christians” as “spiritual giants,” or as “great men of faith.” The irony is that if there is such a thing as a “spiritual giant,” he will always be a person who understands his own desperate helplessness, and is grace-made, not self-made.

The longer I live, the more it seems to me that mature Christians (and mature churches) are those who are humble enough to acknowledge their humanity, and to work from a premise of weakness. “Victorious Christians” are simply believers who follow Jesus because they refuse to trust themselves. “Strong churches” are those who realize that, except for their Head, they have no strength at all.

How strong is that brother or sister whose spiritual journey you idealize? He or she has only a little strength. What about the congregation that seems spiritually alive and problem-free? They have only a little strength. How remarkable were the parents who raised their children to live for Jesus? They did so, but only with a little strength.

And you—you would still like to be a strong Christian?

If it’s strength you seek, begin from a premise of weakness. If you pursue victory, begin with a cross.

That is God’s rule in His kingdom, so “that no flesh should glory” before God. And so that “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:29-31).

Or, as Paul learned: “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities [or weakness], that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Are you satisfied with weakness, or a little strength, like Paul was?

If so, your life, and your church, may become a channel of that perfect “power of Christ.” When that happens, weakness wins.

—Arlin Weaver

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