The Weakness of God: An Advent Meditation

I’m currently studying and reflecting on the weakness of God to prep for a new series I’ll be teaching this month.

The weakness of God. I love the phrase. It’s so counter intuitive.

We typically think in terms of the power of God: the strength of God. That’s what we like to hear about. God’s strength gives us hope.

weakness of god

The Weakness of God

We Like Strength

We like strength in general.  I read recently about a study involving male teens that are turning to steroids to buff up their appearance. And then there’s the other end of the spectrum where older men are taking testosterone to prolong their strength into their later years.

Strength is comforting. That’s why the Bible often portrays God as a warrior, or a rock, a tower, all pictures of strength.

The Weakness of God

Yet God also portrays himself in images of weakness. When God revealed himself to the prophet Elijah it says:

The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 1 Kings 19:11,12

Most of us would expect to hear God in the storm. Isn’t that when Lt. Dan encountered God in Forrest Gump? But not Elijah. God was in a gentle whisper.

Of course the best picture of the weakness of God was expressed when he appeared in the person of Jesus as a baby.  I know it’s a quaint little Bible story that we celebrate at Christmas but we’ve lost the power of what God was saying. It’s almost laughable to think that God would even consider entering history in that medium. Who in their right mind would have ever guessed it? 

The gods were Zeus or Thor or Hercules. They were gods of power and status. For the Jewish god to enter the world as a baby in a manger…what is that..some kind of joke?

If not a joke, then what? What was God telling us? He was trying to show us a side to his being that few want to see. But if we are willing to look, we will learn something about God that might encourage us even more than his strength.

The weakness of God is what tells us that we are not freaks. Weakness is not something that has to be covered up or pumped up or drugged up. Weakness is a part of our humanity and God isn’t ashamed of it. He came to us in a way that shows us he understands our weakness by sharing in it.

I hope this Advent season you’ll see a new side to God in his weakness.

Question: Is the weakness of God an encouraging thought? Why or why not? Leave your comment below.


4 thoughts on “The Weakness of God: An Advent Meditation

  1. jman

    Very good thoughts. I think this is helpful to those who live in condemnation. It also a winsome angle of God’s character and reach communication to the unchurched. Thank you!

  2. Judith Doran

    Remy, I prefer to think of it not as weakness, but of God making God’s self vulnerable in order to have the full experience of incarnation. Every Christmas Eve since my ordination, I have celebrated a “Quiet Christmas” service (I abhor “blue” Christmas, which implies something must be wrong with you) To me it is about celebrating the fact that God willingly enters humanity so that God can fully relate to our own vulnerability: sadness, loss, grief, etc.

    1. F. Remy Diederich

      Yes, the word “weakness” is not accurate but conveys the idea of vulnerability. The Bible uses the phrase in a rhetorical way. But I like the provocative nature of the phrase. Our culture is seduced by strength and embarrassed by weakness. To think that God came to us in “weakness” is really shocking and counter cultural. To “those who have ears” it forces us to consider and hopefully not only our own weaknesses but the weakness of others as well. Remy

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