..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Discerning Jesus in Brokenness, Blindness and Weakness

Discerning Jesus in Brokenness, Blindness and Weakness

Whatsoever you do to the least
of My brothers, that you do unto Me
(Matthew 25: 40).

Who is blind as my Servant Israel, or
deaf as My messenger whom I send? Who
is blind as he who is perfect and blind as
the Lord’s Servant” (Isaiah 42:18,19).

Weakness, vulnerability, fragility,
brokenness. These are not words that
would first come to mind when one thinks
of God or be the first place one might
look for God. God’s ways, however, are
never dictated by the common sense of man.
Who God is, what He values, and how He
operates, are great and wondrous
mysteries that we need to inquire about.

Lately, there have been a number of
occasions where I could feel the
goose bumps rising on my arm as I
pondered God’s Presence mysteriously
hidden in Life. It is the way of the
world to look for God in powerful displays
but it seems it is the way of God to reveal
Himself, even conceal Himself, in displays
of weakness.

The cross of Christ is the greatest
revelation of God’s interaction
with man but in the eyes of the world it
is a display of weakness and shame.
The cross is certainly about ultimate
victory, but it is clothed in the
tattered cloak of apparent defeat.

Into all of our lives come situations
that defy explanation and baffle us,
bringing us to a moment of destiny as we
decide how we will respond. Let me begin
by saying that each person’s sin is their
own fault and they are accountable for it.
Furthermore, I do not underestimate the
scheming and destructive work of the
Evil One, which is its own separate issue,
yet right next to all of this is a
scriptural archetype of weakness.

Weakness is not the same as sin. For
Christians, being human brings with
it an inherent and total reliance on
God to make us into the image of His
Son. Even if man had not fallen its
seems there would still have been a
process of birthing the full and mature
image of Christ within man and woman.

Because of our fallen nature, this
transformational process does not take
place easily or quickly. Actually,
because of the wreckage in our souls,
there has to be much tearing down before
the building up can begin.

When God called the prophet Jeremiah
he commissioned him to “root out and
to pull down, to destroy and to throw
down,to build up and plant” (Jeremiah 1:10).
In that call there seems to be more
leveling and breaking down work then
building work, or the concept that that
the leveling work would take twice as
long and be be twice as hard as the actual
building work. Demolition wreckage is
a bigger problem to remove then just
building from the ground up.

Often we wonder why God does not work
more rapidly in perfecting us or perfecting
that which concerns us. God, you have
noticed, does not view things the way we
do. We are fearfully and wonderfully made
and the depths inside us are largely unknown
territory to even the most seasoned spiritual

We do not know ourselves. Nor do we know
others. Thank God for the day when “we shall
know even as we are known” ( 1 Cor 13:12).
But until then we do not know what the deepest
parts of ourselves might say or do when under
great pressure.

If God were looking to reveal an accurate
response of how we would respond to Him
He might not get a true picture if He
appeared to us in power or acted in power.
(Of course, He already knows us inside and
out, but it is we that must have the truth
dug out of us for ourselves and that great
cloud of witnesses to see).

If you went to meet the Queen or the President
of the U.S. you would be on your best behavior
and respectful of their office. You would say
kind things to their face even if behind their
backs you ripped them up one side and down the

We gravitate toward the rich and famous. As
human beings we are such assumers and such
paparazzi’s. We run after glittery things,
and sparkly people, taking snapshots, thinking
we know where real life is and trying to take
a bite out of it for our hungry souls. We often
bite into the wrong things: consider Adam and Eve.

We are somehow predisposed to think God will
make a show of great power or else He is not
doing His job right. We also think that He
prefers to manifest Himself in strength but
He tells Paul, “My strength is perfected in
weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).

Lately I have been led to believe that
God is sometimes specifically hiding in
the weakness of His servants. We all
believe that Jesus resides in His people.
The question is “where exactly does He
reside?” If I were Him I would head for
the more nicely finished parts of the

I am beginning to suspect that, at
least some of the time, He conceals
Himself in our more severely broken parts,
in deafness and weakness and brokenness,
for it is there that He is needed most. He
goes out and sits in the place of our
weakness. God does not always sit in the leather
recliner in the living room, sometimes He
sits in the broken chair on the porch.

“What in the world are you talking about?” I
see you asking.

I have seen some, been involved in,
some difficult situations and seen people,
even or especially myself, stumble over
another believer’s blindness and deafness.
I keep thinking, “Surely they must see!
Quite certainly they must hear!”. I have
come to anger or something sadly past anger,
when what I perceive as the blindness and
deafness persists, and here’s the kicker,
affects me in a negative manner.
I’m thinking it is here that I am
encountering a blast of my own
self-righteousness, for I’m thinking
if I knew my true state as compared to what
I am judging, then anger might not be my
predominant emotion.

I wonder where Christ is in all this, and
have come to the conclusion that He sits
before me disguised in the weakness, the
blindness, and deafness of fellow believers.

What? Yes. For it is in these moments
of frustration who I really am, and what
I will really do, comes out by the bucket
load. My truest self, for better or for worse
will come forth. My heart will be revealed.

When I see weakness in another, especially
in a place where I think it not ought to
be, or in a configuration that I find
hard to take, a configuration that presses
upon me, I am tempted to lash out because
I feel that I am not lashing out at something
powerful, but more like at defenseless dog
on the boot of someone who would kick them.

I am unaware of God’s Presence in the
situation. I do not see Him staring at
me from within another brother or sister,
helpless in my hands, waiting to see if
I will strike Him or help Him.

Beloved Ones, what if the thing that
bothers you to death, irks you beyond
your ability to bear it, is not just
put there by Christ but is Christ Himself
in disguise?

What if He is there waiting to see not
only what you will do, but what you
will do TO HIM? We can be on the
receiving end of this or the giving
end. We can be the person that others are
misjudging or stumbling over, or we can
be judging or stumbling over another. Or
both! We would do well to try and
recognize what is going on lest we do
not discern the Lord in His Body.

Christ has chosen to identify strongly
with His Body. Perhaps we do not
know how strongly. When I lash out
at a brother or sister, how in the
world will I have the wisdom to know if
it is their willful ignorance or something
Christ has allowed and actually chosen
to take up residence in, at least for the
moment, to bring Me to a place where
I will respond as He does to whatever
crosses my path? You would be quite
startled if He popped out from amidst
the unfinished construction of another
life and said, “I’m working here, do
you think I am not?” Or am I too
blind to see?

Here me out!
I am not condoning sin, sloppy living,
or spiritual ignorance. I am not saying
that Satan is not also lurking at the
door to work, but in a believer it is
my scriptural understanding that Satan
and Christ cannot both dwell. Our flesh
is still being dealt with. We are works
in progress. Does this fact escape God’s
notice? Does He not see that you and I
are still quite messed up?

There are more to things then meet the
outer eye. There are things that
seem almost eerie, and we must ask
God for discernment. We need
to look for our Lord, have eyes to
behold Him, wherever He might
be hiding.

And so I am wondering when we see
weakness in another believer, especially
one we esteem, perhaps even, or especially
in a leader, are we more blind then they
until we also see Christ there, holding
out His Hand to us, even as a beggar at
the gate, waiting to see how we will
treat Him as He disguises Himself in the
apparently blind or deaf one.

Every time I have thought of this concept
My heart starts to beat out of my chest.

Isaiah 42 describes the Servant of the Lord.
These songs are often said to be pictures
of Jesus. “Who is so blind as he who is
perfect, and blind as the Lord’s Servant?”
(vs. 19.)

Blind as he who is perfect? Does this even
make sense? If you are blind, how can you
be perfect? But what if it were Christ
allowing the blindness, or at least making
use of it for His purposes, even for a hiding
place for Himself? Perhaps I speak as a fool,
but I will address that shortly.

What if those purposes revolved around testing
how you would respond to weakness, lameness,
blindness or ignorance?

Is YOUR heart beating fast yet?

God is not after making us powerful in the
world’s sense. He is about making us like
Him: compassionate, longsuffering, meek,
willing to go five hundred extra miles for
the sake of a brother or sister, ready
to forgive seventy times seven times even
in one hour.

How else do you explain, “For whatever
you do to the least of my brothers, that
you do unto Me.”

He did not say, “whatever you do to the
strongest and best of my brothers,” but
to the least of them. And I ask you, as
I ask myself with trembling
heart, what makes them least in your eyes?
And can you let it go?

In Russian literature there is often a
strange character called a “holy fool.”
The character can either be someone who
has rejected society to walk in a solitary
or eremitic state to seek spiritual wisdom,
or it more often can be a character who
seems to hover between sanity and insanity,
speaking non-sense at some moments, and
then speaking the pure truth of God in others.

I know I have encountered holy fools in my
life. They give you rare glimpses into the
nature of reality. They unabashedly tell
us that the emperor has no clothes on. They
point out our nakedness and our own foolishness.
The question is, can we trust what a madman
tells us that he sees? Should we take advice
from a fool? Is the advice coming
from the crazy part or the holy part?

Only a listening heart can discern that.

I can remember hearing Derek Prince, who
is now with the Lord, speaking on the
disturbing disguises of God. He describes
a moment of holding a sick orphan baby,
holding it more from a place of near
disgust, and then looking down and seeing
the face of Christ being held in his arms.
It was the beginning of a ministry that
his wife and he were called to with
needy children.

Mother Theresa calls us to see the face
of Christ in the “distressing disguise of
the poor.” Poverty, my dear friends,
comes in all forms.

I am not condoning or advocating for
our sinful broken condition. I am just
suggesting that there is more to the
process of it: that Christ is involved
in our brokenness more than you think,
and in ways that you may not have
thought of.

Be careful the next time you judge
another brother or sister too quickly.
It may be YOU that God is testing and
YOU that He will call into account for
not recognizing Him and welcoming Him,
giving Him food and drink and aid as He
implores your mercy in the disguise of
distress, weakness, or blindness. Our
glorious nature to come starts in a
weak place. There is a great day coming
for us and in us, but the journey
starts in an humble way.

Dear brothers and sisters,

Where have you seen Jesus lately?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your thought-provoking and insightful posts have been a huge blessing to me. Thank you for a this reminder to see Christ in the weaknesses of our brothers and sisters...too often I respond in self-righteous condemnation.

Thank you for serving God in this way...I am blessed.