My Strength Made Perfect in Weakness - The Supreme Court Ruling

‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’”(2 Cor 12:9)

Our Lord Jesus Christ offered these words to the Apostle Paul when he faced a serious crisis in his life. In fact, St. Paul suffered through numerous crosses and challenges, confronting the reality of death often. He frequently felt as if he had little control of what he confronted in life, with evil threats and constant persecution threatening him at every turn. Yet, it was precisely in these moments of feeling helpless, of feeling utterly not in control of his life, that he remembered the most important lesson of faith. When we are weak and utterly at a loss, this is the time when we need to remember that we are not alone. God is with us. And God’s grace is enough to see us through any and every crisis. When we learn to rely not on our own power but on God’s might and strength, then we are never helpless and nothing is ever hopeless!

St. Paul’s shares in his letter to the Christians in Corinth this revelation: “The trouble which came upon us in Asia burdened us beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life itself. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us!” (2 Corinthians 1:8-10)

“My grace is sufficient for you,” God reminds us, “For My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

This lesson didn’t come easy for the Apostle Paul, as I’m sure it won’t come easy for us. We Americans have such a strong sense of independence, combined with our proud, individualistic spirit. We want to feel self-sufficient, and often think that by relying on others, this is a sign of weakness. Our ego wants us to do it ourselves, so that we can then think of how strong we are! Turning to others is a sign of weakness. Here, though, lies a fundamental element of an authentic Christian life. Spiritual strength is not found in the individual. One Christian is no Christian. Our journey through life is not about ourselves journeying alone! It is all about community, about walking with others. And first and foremost, this communal journey begins and ends with walking with God! He is our shepherd, our companion, our co-sojourner, our friend. And He promises that “I will be with you always, even to the end of the age.”

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

The clearer we see our need for God, the more obvious we understand this communal journey of faith. And this is when God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. His grace becomes more apparent and abundant in our lives!

This topic of abundant grace in moments of crisis and weakness can be applied in a personal way, as well as at a community level.

This past week, we have seen a landmark decision by the Supreme Court with its ruling legalizing same-sex marriage throughout our country. Many in our country are celebrating this as an historic victory for freedom and civil rights of same-sex partners. Countless others, however, feel threatened that this action by the Supreme Court further promotes the post-Christian culture and agenda of our country, and not only threatens the traditional institution of marriage, but opens up a new era of possible religious discrimination and even persecution.

Many Christians fear that any prior discrimination and/or intolerance of the LGBT community may now be transferred to an intolerance of any religious community, or any individual, whose religious views differ from this Supreme Court ruling. For example, it was easy to read in numerous articles these past days, “If you disagree with this ruling, you are a hate-filled bigot.”

It was only two years ago the Assembly of Orthodox Bishops in this country offered a clear testimony of where our Orthodox Christian faith stands on this issue:

 The Orthodox Christian teaching on marriage and sexuality, firmly grounded in Holy Scripture, two millennia of Church Tradition, and Canon Law, holds that the sacrament of marriage consists in the union of a man and a woman, and that authentic marriage reflects the sacred unity that exists between Christ and His Bride, the Church.

Persons with homosexual orientation are to be cared for with the same mercy and love that is bestowed on all of humanity by our Lord Jesus Christ.  Moreover, the Church is a spiritual hospital, where we all are called to find the healing of our fallen humanity through Jesus Christ, who assumed human nature in order to restore it.  All of us struggle with various passions, and it is only within the Church that we find the means of overcoming these passions with the assistance of God’s grace.  Acting upon any sexual attraction outside of sacramental marriage, whether the attraction is heterosexual or homosexual, alienates us from God.

How will such a teaching be looked upon in future years? Will we be able to pass on our tradition and teachings without being looked upon as “hate-filled bigots?” Only time will tell. Yet whatever comes in the future, we must never forget that God is still in control. He is with us, and will see us through any challenges and struggles we may face.

Our Orthodox faith emphasizes respect, love and mercy for all people. We are not called to judge others, but are called to help one another understand the path that leads us towards God, towards intimate union with God. Yet this path begins when we understand clearly that we all are weak. We are all broken sinners in need of God’s grace, just as our culture is a fallen one, in need of God’s grace. Yet in the midst of our brokenness, and in the midst of our challenges and difficulties, we won’t despair.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”


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