Tumbling in the Sand
“For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.” -1 Corinthians 1:18-25
“It is said that [the Devil] deploys extreme and exquisite cunning to foil God’s power and goodness and to win or regain the place of God. God deploys no cunning and refuses conflict. The war between the Devil and God never took place, one wants to win, the other does not.” – Michael Serres, Five Senses: A Philosophy of Mingled Bodies
We tend to think that strength is about a certain kind of power: a certain kind of power that wins, that dominates, that tends toward force. We certainly measure our own strength that way: can we win a war? can we win a fight? can we win an argument? If so, than we are powerful, strong. But that’s not really the power of God. God’s strength is one of love. God’s strength is one of service. God reveals God’s power in the person of Jesus kneeling to wash his betrayers’ feet: in the awesome humility of a servant Lord.
This seems totally foolish to us. We fear being out of control, we fear being weak, we fear being vulnerable and we think—we’ve been taught—that we need to win, to be in control, to be independent in order to survive. I know I sure have been taught such and I find it so hard to let my foolish hope be wisdom and my weakness be my strength. But it’s that kind of thinking that worships the gods of power rather than the power of God. It is that kind of thinking that leads us to “us” and “them.” It is that thinking that leads us to violence and distrust and betrayal. It is that kind of thinking that leads to broken relationship.
But God’s power teaches us something so different. An ancient Christian text called the Epistle to Diognetus reminds us that “Force is no attribute of God.” God’s power does not force. It does not need to be in control. It doesn’t need to define hierarchy at all—as in who wins or who loses, who is on top and who is on the bottom, who is in control and who follows. The power of God invites us to give up our need to control, our need for domination, by risking God’s very self in relationship with us and letting us push and fall into a God who does not push back.