Many years ago there was a man, named Martin Luther, who had seen a number of problems with ‘the Church’. He could not be silent any longer and wrote out exactly 95 things that he felt the ‘Church’ was doing and teaching that were contrary to what Scripture actually declared. He called this his ’95 Theses’. Truthfully, Luther’s bravery and boldness has forever changed Christianity. It was the beginning of a much-needed reforming throughout the body of Christ. Every once in a while, the Church needs that. Every so often, when we Christians think we have it all figured out and that we have really got it all down exactly right… we desperately need to be re-‘formed’. Because the image we are to be striving for is the very image of Jesus, Himself. To be fashioned and formed into the likeness of Christ should be our greatest goal.
The first of Luther’s 95 Theses was about brokenness, that Jesus willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance. In other words, brokenness is the ongoing, lifelong reality. It isn’t something you get past. It’s a continually deepening revelation of your own impotence without the Holy Spirit. That’s why you meet people in their eighties, godly men and women, who say, “I think I”m just beginning to grasp the gospel.”
Like the Church, we individually, must continually come to the place where we recognize that we are incapable of doing this thing in our own strength. It’s not by might, nor by power (our own), but by God’s Spirit that things are to be getting done. The Apostle Paul said it best, “I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Cor 2:3-5).
In a day where much emphasis is placed on ‘leadership’ and ‘skills-testing’ and even ‘giftings’… there can be a tendency to begin to think that it is all about ‘us’ – our skills, our gifts, and our ability to lead. When the truth is, during a TRUE move of God – one where He is RE-FORMING people into His own image – there is little to do with ‘us’ and much to do with ‘HIM’. For that to transpire… there really must be less of us. There must be a breaking of us… our will… our agenda.
This is what, I believe, Luther was getting at in his very first thesis. He was trying to communicate the reality that when you and I try to ‘make something happen’ by our own might… we miss an authentic move of God.
So what does this mean? It means that it really doesn’t matter how good our music sounds, how many fancy slides we have to accompany our sermons, how much preparation we do to properly communicate those sermons, how many lasers and fog-machines we have to ‘set the mood’ for worship, how many cool T-shirts we sell with our new logo and themes, or even how many people we can attract to our show. (Not that any of those things are bad in and of themselves.) It simply means that we must embrace brokenness. We must recognize our weakness and not think too highly of ourselves or our ‘formulas’. We must always be those who are reliant upon God’s Holy Spirit to lead us and GUIde us.
When God is GUIding… it’s always God, U, and I. In that order. When modern ministry is obviously based on a particular ‘personality’ or ‘program’… then there is a problem. It is often those who are broken, who have been through the fire and emerged triumphant ‘in Christ’… that have made the largest impact on my life.
Though a person is weak, we must not limit God to use our weaknesses for His glory. Often, we struggle to ‘not be weak’, rather than struggle for God to simply use us in our weakness. Mother Teresa once said that she heard a voice speak to her in prayer saying, “You are I know the most incapable person, weak and sinful, but just because you are that I want to use you, for My glory! Wilt thou refuse?” Remember when Jacob wrestled with God all night long? The Lord left Jacob with a limp… a weakness that he would have to carry with him the rest of his life. However, it was in that moment that God changed Jacob’s name from Jacob (heel-grabber) to Israel (one who is governed by God). God was saying, “Listen, you are not to be a man that is constantly grabbing at success – climbing the ladder in your own strength in order to grab the heels of the guy ahead of you. You are to be a man that does the will of God – a man who is governed by God and not his own will. You are to be a man who lives in My Kingdom, where I (God) am the Governor and King. It’s not to be by your might, Jacob, but by My Spirit.”(Genesis 32:28)
The ‘limp’ that God left Jacob with, I believe, would be a constant reminder, for the rest of his life, of what God had spoken to him that fateful night. So too, with you and I. Our weaknesses are to be constant reminders that God is the Governor… the Lord… the Boss. For apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5).
May the weaknesses that you and I have… the brokenness we’ve had to endure… only lead us to the realization that God can now use us to a much greater degree for His glory. “Wilt thou refuse?”