There is power in vulnerability.
If you’ll allow me one more reflection of my weekend in Ohio at the Epic Fail conference. Maybe the most powerful moment for me was the final day, when I was approached by one of the other pastors. He told me of his moral failure, 15 years before and the devastating effects it had on his entire life.
Kind of in the middle of what he was telling me, this man added these words…
This is the first time I’ve talked about it with someone else outside of a counselor. I felt like you listen and won’t cut me off, because you understand what I’m feeling.
That is the power of vulnerability. Others will respond to their own brokenness as they see you deal with your own and they will let you share the journey with them. It is the entry ramp into being a compassion bearer for a fellow follower of Christ. Compassion is the glue that holds the body together.
Within our consumer, individualist church cultures, we try to convince people to follow our strength, giving people the false impression that by following Christ we have it all figured out. Five Christian steps to a better marriage. Seven biblical principle to better parenting. Or if you choose to read it, you can use the book pictured at left to follow a biblically approved diet to cure heart disease.
The result is that we become unapproachable. Rather than allowing people to understand that Christ is being strong through us, we hide behind a mask of good behavior and self formed image. And our attempts to speak Christ into people’s experience becomes impotent.
The pastor I mentioned above gave me a shot to be compassionate because by sharing my story of failure, he determined that I’d be more likely to listen and less likely to give him a couple steps to fix his problem – a list of shoulds, dos, and don’ts.
Now I have won influence.
We serve a compassionate God. A God who humbled himself and became weak through the incarnation.
A God who exposed himself and became vulnerable.
Now He himself can say “I’ve been there”, “I had that experience”, or “that was tempting to me too”. Christ stands before the Father saying those things on our behalf.
So when you feel abandoned – all Jesus’ friends left when the going go tough. When you’re grieving loss – Jesus wept at the death of his friend. Bitter about not having a father – Jesus was forsaken by his as He hung on the cross. On and on we could go. Jesus has truly been there.
What circumstance in your life do you struggle to understand Jesus’ ability to have compassion?