Being Powerful and Vulnerable

Being Powerful and Vulnerable

Being Powerful and Vulnerable

by Dave Carter
30th April 2020

It struck me recently by how much Jesus openly acknowledged his need for help from other people. The trigger for considering this was a section in Jesus through middle eastern eyes1, which I would recommend to anyone.

In this essay, Bailey draws attention to Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus’ opening line is not to proclaim his greatness or how much the woman needs what he has to offer. No, it is to ask for a drink, to show a need and seek assistance. It resulted in a life-changing conversation.

Other examples are listed where Jesus goes to people requiring them to help him in some way. In some instances, this is purely practical. When he first approaches Peter, Jesus asks for his boat to use as a preaching platform. When heading into Jerusalem, he sends two friends to find a donkey.

At other times Jesus asks his disciples to be with him for friendship, for spiritual support. Taking Peter, James, and John with him when he went to the garden of Gethsemane to pray comes to mind.

Jesus came to save the world, with more to offer than anyone who had ever lived. He also lived as someone who experienced the human condition in its fulness. Innate within this is the need to rely on others at times. In some ways, the incarnation started with this at the centre; being born as a vulnerable child needing human parents to care for him.

We see ourselves as powerful people, able to change the atmosphere around us and bring life wherever we go. Jesus is our ultimate role model in this, we have the same Holy Spirit that he did, and we can expect the miraculous goodness of God to be expressed through us.

We also have to acknowledge our needs, once again taking Jesus as our role model. We’re powerful, not self-sufficient and independent. God designed humanity to exist in community, and part of that includes receiving help and generosity from others. Being powerful doesn’t mean never needing help, especially when we see our strength contributing to a wider body of people who also strengthen us.

The deepest relationships are formed when we look for what both parties contribute. To have truly significant relationships, these have to be two-way. Any time I see myself as purely there to give my strength and resources to someone without expecting anything back I’m casting myself more as a benevolent patron than a powerful friend.

I believe that true maturity involves looking to use our giftings to bless others, whilst also putting ourselves in a place where we pull on the strengths of others.

This requires humility. Pride will tell you that you should be able to sort everything out on your own. Wisdom will tell you that’s not possible. Love will tell you that you don’t need to.

1) Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes, Kenneth E. Bailey.