“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Cor. 12:9, NIV).
I recently returned from a men’s retreat that took place over a weekend. It was a powerful time with almost 500 men where we saw conversions and baptisms. We saw God show up in a big way through the messages that were spoken and in the hearts of so many men that shared their testimonies.
One of the themes that I took away from the weekend was about the importance of vulnerability. Now vulnerability sounds like a negative word; by definition, it means that you are susceptible to attack or capable of being hurt. A picture to help you think of this is that our lives are like a castle; we build walls and fortify the perimeters in order to prevent something dangerous coming in and ransacking what is important to us. We may have been vulnerable in the past and gotten hurt, which caused us to build extra defenses to ensure that never happens again.
The Bible tells us to “guard our heart” (Prov. 4:23), but what if in the process of building walls, we keep out resources that we need to function? What if we are in our castle dying from a lack of food and supplies and we don’t let our walls down to allow those supplies to come in? What if Jesus is “standing at the door and knocking” but we don’t want to be vulnerable with our loving Savior?
I believe the lack of vulnerability for the Christian can lead to isolation and a false strength in our own power.
Paul refused to boast in his strength but chose to boast about his weakness because, through his weakness, the power of Jesus was revealed.
• It takes vulnerability to serve on a mission trip.
• It takes vulnerability to lead a small group at church.
• It takes vulnerability to serve at a food bank for the first time.
• It takes vulnerability to read the Bible and apply it to your life.
• It takes vulnerability to share with an accountability partner about a sin in your life.
• It takes vulnerability to admit you are wrong to your kids or your spouse and ask for forgiveness.
• It takes vulnerability to give tithes and offerings to God when finances are tight.
• It takes vulnerability to not respond to gossip or slander that is thrown your way in a measure that is due the instigator.
From each of these instances of vulnerability can arise a reward and blessing in our lives and in our walk with Jesus.
Jesus was the ultimate example of vulnerability. When He went to the cross, He was vulnerable to those around Him. He allowed the earthly authorities to execute Him even though He had the power to stop it. Through Jesus’s vulnerability, He was able to complete the work on the cross and pave a way for everyone who would accept and repent to be freed from the curse of sin.
When Mary and Martha invited Jesus into their home, Mary sat at Jesus’s feet listening to Him. She was vulnerable in the sense that she broke societal norms by sitting at a rabbi’s feet, which was usually reserved for the men. She allowed His words to be the focus of that moment regardless of all the other things that needed to get done that Martha was stressed about. Mary chose “the good part” (Luke 10:42). When we choose the good part and allow ourselves to be vulnerable with Jesus, we will never be disappointed.
Some of the most unmovable people are those have been the most wrecked by Jesus, those who were captured by His love and forgiveness to the point of complete surrender. They came from a position of vulnerability to strength in knowing exactly Who they serve, who they are, and who they are not as a fallible human.
Charles Spurgeon said that “Every Christian has a choice between being humble and being humbled.” The Israelites would not humble themselves, so God had to.
Deuteronomy 8:2-3 (NIV) says:
Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
Discernment is required to know when we should be vulnerable or not. It is not wise to let all our problems be known to everyone and confide in people that have broken our trust. It takes a balance between knowing when to drop our defenses and when to take a God-inspired risk at the cost of getting hurt.
How thick are your walls? Have you built them so high and so wide that you are not letting the right people in? Is there a risk that God is calling you to take for His Kingdom that you are afraid of because you will be vulnerable?
Remember that if God is for you, who can be against you?!
Discerning Reflection: How have I not been vulnerable to those that I should trust? How I have I not been vulnerable to Jesus? How can I step out of my comfort zone into vulnerability to where God is currently calling me?
Prayer: Lord, help me to understand that vulnerability in You means strength in Your power and not my own. Allow me to be humble enough to hear Your voice and wise enough to know when I need to act on what You are calling me to do. Amen.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on discerning-dad.com
Featured Image by Stephan Wiesner