2 Cor 12:2-10
When thinking of God’s transforming power, what do you think of? Unbelievers coming to put their faith in Jesus, criminals changing their ways, addicts being freed from addiction, fearful and suspicious communities reaching out in peace to their enemies, countryside ravaged by fire coming alive with new growth after rain? What about weakness becoming strength, failures being successful, the dead coming alive, the poor finding that they are rich? Paul, troubled by a physical ailment, cried out in prayer for healing only to have the word come back, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” An example of God’s transformative power. Weakness becomes a strength in Paul’s faith and ministry. We know that God can use our talents, learning and skills; our energy, our good health, our prominence in the community. But that does not mean that God only works through our strengths. God certainly used Paul’s considerable intellectual, communicative and organizing skills, but for those who might feel they have nothing like the abilities that Paul had to offer Christ it is good to know that he still can use us, weak and elderly, sick and handicapped as we might be. When we use our strengths in God’s service it is easy for us to fall into the trap of thinking that it is by our own skill and knowledge that we are successful, and it is easy for other people to see it that way. But when God works through our stumbling, inefficient, embarrassing efforts, it becomes more clearly evident that it is by God’s power and not our own that transformation occurs. As Mark 6:1-13 shows, the efforts made on behalf of God’s kingdom do not always meet a ready and eager response, but one thing is clear, while it calls for our involvement and witness, it is not by our strengths that God transforms either individual or community life; it is by the power of the Holy Spirit active in the heart and minds of people.
- Where have you seen evidence of God’s transforming power at work?
- Have you had experiences like that of Paul recorded in 2 Corinthians 12:7-8?
- Do ecstatic experiences like those mentioned in 2 Corinthians 12:1-7 have a place in your Christian experience? What does God say to you through this passage?
- If conversion takes place by the power of God’s Spirit at work in a person’s life why does it need human agents?