In reflection on 2 Corinthians the passage, which stood out the most, was chapter twelve. The reasoning for this is because more than a lot of other Pauline writings we find Paul writing from a place of authenticity. A place in which he is ashamed of and longs for God to take this thorn out of his side. Here in lies the greatness of this piece of text. In verse nine we read Jesus say to Paul that his grace is sufficient for him, and that Jesus power is made perfect in his weakness. Paul goes on to finish this passage by saying, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” It is almost as if Paul is saying, “Brown is the new black.” This is a phrase that says this is the new way of doing things. These are the new trends in fashion. Paul is saying, “Weak is the new strong.”

For when one finds his or herself weak they are strong. Because when we surrender our expectations or our inhibitions we can find that we are weak and in need of help from our Creator. Often in our culture and our approach to mission we try everything our way first. Then after failure happens we then turn to God for help. This is backwards if we look at what Paul has told us to do. In our weakness we need to turn to Jesus first from that point of weakness there comes strength. This is such a revolutionary way of thinking and doing things. If we were to first surrender our desires for what our King desires then we are admitting to our weakness and are in need of strength. We cannot do this on our own.
This also applies to our own struggles when we are in ministry or on the mission field. We all have personal thorns things in which we feel that we are not worthy of doing ministry, yet there is grace. There is something in which Jesus does when he takes us at our point of weakness. A place when we feel that we are not worthy of advancing the kingdom and we find Jesus saying to us, “My grace is sufficient.” If this passage is not a “sigh of relief” for us as Christians then I do not know what relief may look like? Jesus offers us something that we are clearly not worthy of but because of our weakness he is able to shine through.

We are incredibly blessed to have this opportunity for our weaknesses to now become strengths. We no longer have to live in fear that God will not use us because of our downfalls. When we live under a way of living that weak is the new strong we can experience freedom at its fullest form. Paul follows up in saying that we should not be afraid of our weakness more over we should be glad because we know that God will shine through the darkness and the light will be seen for all.

Spiritual disciplines and spiritual practices have become quite familiar in my vocabulary since coming to Fuller Seminary. In the book Streams of Living Water by Richard J. Foster he elaborates on six essential practices for Christians to experience a fuller life with Jesus Christ. However, they are not items in which are rooted in a fluffy idea or a new concept to market to the uber-spirtual. They are traditions, which are founded in Christ then observed and compared to others throughout history. Foster also holds these traditions with biblical truths. His integration of the Trinity is a breath of fresh air and is encouraging to find a book, which is grounded in history, the bible, and the work of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.
In the first chapter Foster is setting up the format of where the book is going. He forms a clear outline for the remaining chapters of the book. Communicating a brief synopsis of what to expect. His writing style is easy and smooth incorporating scholarly points as well as careful reflection of what the Spirit is doing in these practices.
The second chapter launches into the body of the book by talking about the contemplative life. Which is a life that is bathed in prayer. At the beginning of the chapter he shows the history of the more important individuals who have helped shaped our understanding and growth in prayer. This level of intimacy with God is shown by the intimacy that was experienced by Jesus disciple John. The careful dissection of John’s life with Jesus is an excellent model of how John’s life was transformed by living in such close relation with Jesus. The contemplative tradition is nothing with out love. This has been a great reminder that if we are not in love with God then how are we going to ever be able to talk to him? It is so apparent that our baggage gets in the way of our relationship with Jesus and that we often are sidetracked by our lives and discouragements pulling us out of prayer with God therefore leaving us feeling as if we are not close to him at all. The contemplative tradition is vital for the Christian life to flourish.
Holiness is something that is often overlooked in our culture today. In the third chapter Foster talks about how important a Holy life style is crucial for our Christian faith. He gives great examples on the holy lifestyle is not about perfection but about being transformed into wholeness with Christ. Holiness is about the transformation of the heart not the perfection of ones life in their works. Holiness has been misconstrued in our culture. Instead of embracing the lifestyle and practice it seems that we have moved to the other side giving more grace but not pushing others to get back on track with their walk with the Lord. Foster stresses throughout the chapter Holiness is not about perfection and tries to embrace our imperfection but striving for something more than what we could ever imagine for our lives.

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