Colossians 1: 11-20
What kind of Strength?
What does it mean to have strength? Does it mean you have bulging muscles and can intimidate someone just by your appearance? Maybe strength means you have lots of money and power like a rich King in a castle. Maybe it means you have the strongest army or the best weapons.
When Jesus lived on the earth the people were expecting him to have the kind of strength and be the kind of King that I just described. But on the contrary, Jesus was the opposite of this kind of King and modeled a different kind of strength. Jesus was always being seen with the poor and the marginalized. He taught about the strength of love not found in hate and a kind of kingship not found in castles.
Jesus washed the feet of his disciples teaching them about servant leadership. Jesus healed the sick and was present to the outcasts. Jesus taught us about a different kind of strength. Jesus taught us that love is stronger than hate and that true strength is found in helping others and in giving of ourselves. He taught that when we are weak we are strong.
Eleanor Rooosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.” In the reading today when did Jesus gain strength?
The reading in Luke says:
Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, 42“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.” 43Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength.
Jesus was facing his fears and found strength when he admitted to God that he was afraid and even asked God to spare him of what was getting ready to happen. In his darkest moment, Jesus wanted to give up and escape the trial and suffering that he could tell was about to descend upon him. Jesus stopped and looked his fear in the face and opened himself up to God placing himself into God’s hands.
Lao Tzu says, “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” Jesus talked to the One who deeply loves and received the strength he needed to love deeply. Jesus deeply loves us and courageously accepted death on a cross. He found the courage to love deeply in the face of evil. He spoke truth to power and stood firmly on the solid ground of truth that is based in authentic love. The love and truth that Jesus was grounded in is not a soft and weak kind of people-pleasing love. The love that Jesus stood on is one that does not allow for injustice, hate, prejudice, marginalization, and abuse of power.
Jesus modeled unconditional love that was for all people. Jesus came face to face with fear and gained the courage to endure suffering and death so that his message of authentic strong love would live on and would have the final say.
What kind of strength do you have? Is it an outer strength or and inner strength? Is it grounded in hate or in love? Is your strength coming from facing a fear or from wanting to run away from what scares you? Are you strong because you want to speak truth to power or because you want to be like a rich King who lives in a castle?
Paul’s prayer for the Colossians points us toward the strength that Jesus modeled. This strength will triumph over hate and fear. May we hear Paul’s prayer today and find the kind of strength that Jesus relied on. May we follow Jesus in striving for this kind of strength. May these words from Paul’s letter encourage us today:
May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully 12giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son.
May we know the strength of love not found in hate and a kind of kingship not found in castles. May we know the strength of facing our fears by trusting in the One who deeply loves us so that we will have the courage to deeply love.