The Power of the Broken Body

Hope recognizes that God works through weakness.

Our culture focuses on outward appearance, beauty, physical and social power, self-sufficiency, and self-achievement. But our cultural pursuit of these is idolatry. We have made little gods of ourselves. But Paul tells us that “God chose what is foolish . . . weak . . . low . . . despised . . . things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor. 1:27–31)

 

Mention the word church and a vast array of images enter the mind. A steepled building housing a congregation; a movement of God across the centuries and the world; “one, holy, catholic, and Apostolic”; “visible and invisible”; “militant and triumphant”; “local and universal.”

More images come from the Scriptures verbatim. The bride of Christ, the temple of the Holy Spirit, the branches connected to the life-giving vine of Christ. But a most provocative and instructive biblical image is “the body of Christ.” We are tempted, especially in the West, to view this body as successful, full of well-ordered, well-dressed, well-mannered people. But the Scriptures describe the church as a broken and weak body that, by God’s grace, confounds the world by also being a hopeful body.

The Church as a Broken and Weak Body

God hardly ever does things the way we might expect. In fact, God takes conventional wisdom and practices and turns them on their head. The whole nature of His redemptive work is “upside down.” Instead of using people of power and integrity or beauty and influence, God uses unknown people (Ruth), cowardly people (Gideon), deeply sinful people (David), and culturally insignificant people (the twelve disciples) to achieve His purposes. Why? So that He alone will receive the glory and the credit for what happens when He works through such surprising human vessels.

For people to understand the power of God working through His people, we must understand two things: first, brokenness forces us to see God as the ultimate and only reliable source of power; and second, God often breaks the very people He intends to use for His glory.

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