The omnipotent vulnerability of God
by PASTOR MARK W. LOVE
St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Rockford
“Christ helps us,” Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote from his prison cell, “not by virtue of his omnipotence, but by virtue of his weakness and suffering… Only the suffering God can help.” (Letters and Papers from Prison, pp. 360-61, Trans. R.H. Fuller-Macmillan New York 1972)
When it comes to loving mankind, God does not need to be pushed into the full consequences of living out His love. It is in living out the fullness of His love that God is being who God is. Such love, in its willingness to suffer the full consequences of that love, is judged by fallen human reason to make God too weak and too vulnerable. Such love would seem to deny His omnipotence.
Yet it is in such weakness and vulnerability that God demonstrates the true omnipotence of His love in that He freely empties Himself and suffers for the sake of those He loves. Such love does not consider, and never regrets, the price it willing pays for being so vulnerable. Such love sees only the need for such weakness and vulnerability and the blessed benefit of it. It is through such vulnerability that the Son of God willingly comes to meet mankind and save him. Such vulnerability for the sake of another is the perfection of love.
Inasmuch as we have been united with Christ in baptism, Christ is with us in all circumstances and conditions of life. In all these conditions, the love of Christ sustains and upholds us so that we can in faith dare to love and live with the risks of being so vulnerable that others might be touched by the love of Christ-through us.
“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into His presence with singing! Know that the Lord, He is God! It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name! For the Lord is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations,” Psalm 100:1-5.