Vulnerability and Mission

The sermon today got me thinking. The minister was going on about the way that we needed to respect other people and also to serve other people as part of our Christian witness and mission. I agree fully with this, respect and service are part and parcel of good Christian mission. However I want to add a third and that is vulnerability

I am well aware that vulnerability is not the first thing that most people thinking of a mission strategy consider, yet it seems to me essential on two levels.

Firstly the kevlar mailed knight in shinning armour is great for getting you out of difficulties, but you don’t actually believe you could become one. That is the rub. The state of postmodernity that the world is in has changed people’s questions. It is no longer “Does it work?” but “Will it work for me?” and the super-person or kevlar mailed knight just isn’t who they are. They want to see the Christian faith working in a frail person like themselves. The closer you can get to a person, the more they can see where your fault lines match theirs the more they are going to be able to trust your solutions.

Secondly there is the fact that the Kevlar coated knight is actually a pretty poor way to allow the light of of Christ to shine through your life. The power is visible but it is assumed to be the power of the individual whom it is working through not the power of God. The other thing is God, at least the one revealed in the New Testament does not seem to think that the normal trappings of power are good ways to communicate what he is about. Oh he can use them if he wanted too, far too many examples of that in the Old Testament but he seems to not use them in the New Testament. Yes he heals people, but he does this for individuals or small groups, yes he can produce food and drink, but he does this for a crowd for a single meal, not a nation for forty years. Yes he can tell the wind to stop but he does not get it to part the Sea of Galilee. In other words he has gone small scale and low key, an interesting change in approach. He is now using the small, weak and vulnerable to show forth his power. As St Paul says God’s power is perfected in weakness.

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