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Prayers for Orlando

As the depth of the tragedy in Orlando came to light throughout the day today, our nation’s collective anguish and helplessness seem more pronounced than ever before. We are at a loss to understand why such a devastating and senseless event could occur again on our soil.

What breaks through the mayhem and confusion for me at this moment are the words of St. Paul in Romans 8:38-39:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

It is in this conviction that I pray for the people of Orlando tonight that the all-surpassing love of God would surround, support and strengthen them during this terrible time.

 

Strong and Weak

Jesus and crossIn Strong and Weak, a new book being published this month, Christian writer Andy Crouch lays out for us an interesting tug-of-war between authority and vulnerability. If you are too firm, you become a dictator. If you are too warm, you become a pushover.

There are so many applications to this conundrum that I see in the workplace, as a parent, and in our role as witnesses for the faith.

The necessity of striking the right balance between strength and weakness when proclaiming the Gospel is even pointed out by Christ himself: “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).

We should never try to overpower people with the message of the Gospel and demand that they coalesce to our way of thinking, but at the same time we should not just tell people that anything they believe is fine.

We know the truth. Jesus is the only path to our salvation. He is THE Way, the Truth and the Life, not just one of many ways to God. The Scripture records Jesus saying, “NO ONE comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Jesus is, of course, our role model in all of this, displayed most profoundly on the cross. In his ultimate vulnerability, he revealed his supreme authority.

We can show our vulnerability in our witness by acknowledging our sinfulness and our own need for Christ, while at the same time expressing that we have the power of Christ within us because he declared victory over sin when he proclaimed from the cross, “It is finished!”

I am reminded of the experience of Paul who admitted to his frustration that he had a “thorn in the flesh” that God would not take away from him, though Paul had thrice prayed that it be removed. Finally, God provided Paul with an answer to his dilemma. ““My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). It was then that Paul came to this realization: “When I am weak, then I am strong“ (2 Corinthians 12:10).

It is God’s grace that is sufficient enough for us, too, to face that combative coworker, that ornery child, that defensive unbeliever with Christlike care. It is God’s grace that allows us to be firm, but loving in all that we do, knowing that God has been firm but loving with us through Christ that we might have life everlasting with him. We have the power within our weak selves to do great things! So, go, therefore, and be weak AND strong!