But [the Lord] 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. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NIV)
I grew up on Volkswagens. My first car was my parents 1973 Super Beetle, and I still have a soft spot in my heart for the old “bugs.” One of the things that made Volkswagens popular back in the late 50’s and early 60’s was a marketing campaign that was completely contrary to the mainstream. American car companies boasted their huge boats, and counter-cultural Volkswagen made fun of how small their cars were. American car companies were all serious about greatness, and Volkswagen marketed humor and poked fun at itself instead. It worked.
There is a lesson in there for me. The further I get in my life journey the more deeply I understand how counter-cultural and contrary the path of Christ is from the ways of this temporal world. Jesus said that “broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
The path of this world leads to strength and power, but Jesus said God’s power is made perfect in my weakness.
The path of this world values wealth, but Jesus told a rich man he would only discover true wealth by selling and giving away everything he had.
The path of this world is all about health, fitness and longevity, but Jesus said I had to lose my life to truly find it.
The path of this world is all about self-help, self-acualization, and self-promotion, but Jesus said the path of Life is found when I love others more than my self.
The path of this world is all about the squirrel wheel of more and faster on our plethora of screens. The path of God leads me to less, rest, and human interaction.
In today’s chapter Paul is once again making one of these core distinctions in the context of his personal situation. The Corinthians, Paul argued, were being duped by slick, good looking, fast talking “super apostles” who were seemingly impressive with regard to all the world values. Against their impressive marketing campaign Paul submits his resume of humility, weakness, and struggle.
This morning I am thinking about the ways that I mindlessly follow culture (like a runaway train) and the ways Jesus calls me to swim against the current. I’m still learning.
Which reminds my of my Volkswagen Beetle. If I’m moving against the current (or a snow drift), it really was an easy push!