making and maturing disciples of Jesus Christ in Birmingham and for the world

Unafraid to be weak

Dear Friends,

Some of us will know David Powlison from his ministry with CCEF.  You may not know that he was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer in November.  He was due to give the closing comments at the Westminster Seminary graduation ceremony in May, but was too fragile to attend, and so a statement was read out on his behalf.  He took the opportunity to speak of “being unafraid to be publicly weak” which, needless to say, he knows something about.

From his own time at Westminster Seminary he recalls a sermon on Romans 8:26, which speaks of our “weakness” in the singular, not “weaknesses” in the plural.  He says, “‘Weakness’ … is a comprehensive description of our human condition.  We are perishable.  We are mortal.  We face a multitude of afflictions in our lives.  And we are sinful, bent from the heart towards pride, self-righteousness, fear of man, and a multitude of desires and fears that beset us.  The mercies of God meet us in this comprehensive condition of weakness.”

He shows us weakness in the lives of King David, the apostle Paul and supremely the Lord Jesus, “who warmly welcomes us to the throne of his grace, that we might receive the mercy we need and the grace specific to whatever difficult situation we are in.”  And then he concludes: “My deepest hope for you is that in both your personal life and your ministry to others, you would be unafraid to be publicly weak as the doorway to the strength of God Himself.”  As the apostle Paul discovered, “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

Yours warmly, in Christ,

Chris Hobbs (Senior Minister/Vicar)

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