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Friday, 22 February 2013

Kingdom, Cross and the Power of Weakness

The Kingdom theology that I grew up with, and the culture it helped to produce, put a great emphasis on faith and power, on 'taking authority' and 'reigning in life', on overcoming, being more than conquerors, on the life of victory and the triumphal advance of the kingdom. I have benefited from this 'faith message' and it was certainly a great antidote to some of the spineless and anemic forms of Christianity that I had come into contact with before then. But I have come to feel that it also sometimes missed something - and it relates to this point about putting the Cross at the centre of our understanding of the Kingdom.

I consider Isaiah 53 to be one of the most beautiful and powerful portrayals of the incarnation and cross in all of Scripture. It speaks of Jesus as the suffering servant, who grew up before God 'like a tender shoot', who had no 'form of majesty or beauty' to attract us, who was 'despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief', and who ultimately was 'led like a Lamb to the slaughter.' Of course this picture of Christ takes its place among the kaleidoscope of prophetic images of him in Scripture, which can only be held together by the Spirit in us, who causes us to see the different aspects of Christ as we need to in the various stages and seasons of our journeys. But in my experience, the bright and colourful lights of Christ as risen Lord, mighty Warrior and conquering King sometimes blinded us to these darker but still beautiful shades of Jesus as suffering servant and crucified King. And to the message it sends us about how God uses the apparently weak, despised and broken to win his greatest victories and achieve his ultimate purpose. 

In such a Christ I so gratefully find a God who does not break the bruised reed, or snuff out the smoldering wick (Is.42:3), who takes the charred and rejected stones and make a glorious temple out of them (Neh.4:2). This is the God of who David said because David knew: 'a broken and a contrite heart, O God, you will not despise' (Ps.51:17). It is because of such a God who demonstrated his greatest power in such weakness, that the weak are able to say I am strong (Joel 3:10; 2 Cor.12:10)! This is the glory of a cross-centred kingdom. 

2 comments:

  1. I love the different images of Christ that the Bible shows us. Jesus taught us a very powerful lesson, that there is strength in weakness. The world see weakness in a different way. The world looks down on the weak and broken. It is through the Cross of Jesus Christ that all are accepted.

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    1. Exactly, Richard. And the Cross is not only the basis on which we are accepted; it is the indication of the way of life we are to follow.

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