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I was recently at a wellness retreat.  The main speaker wasn’t able to come due to flight cancellations.  The staff scrambled to adjust and did an excellent job considering the circumstances. In place of the speaker, we got to hear about Dr. Brene Brown and her work on vulnerability.

During one of the presentations we heard Brown’s equation:

Faith without vulnerability equals extremism.

This is very insightful.

Being vulnerable is seen as being weak in our current culture.  Yet, the opposite is true.  Vulnerability comes from a place of strength.  Those that are weak wall off others.  Those that have self-doubt keep people out of their lives.  Those that have low self-confidence shut off from others and keep things at the intellectual and abstract level.

We live in a culture is based on weakness, although it wants to claim that it is strong.  When you push to eliminate opposition and conquer others, you aren’t starting from strength – you start from fear.  Fear is a sign of weakness.

Our culture claims that no matter what you do, it will never be enough.  It starts from scarcity and weakness.  It sends the message that you aren’t good enough.  You aren’t extraordinary enough.

This isn’t healthy, nor can it sustain long-term.

What would it look like to come from a place of strength?  It would offer an environment where vulnerability was encouraged.  Being vulnerable is the core essence of life.  Jesus was vulnerable throughout his life.  Vulnerable to the point of death.  It takes someone with a great deal of self-confidence, self-knowledge, and self-love to go that far.  But it doesn’t end with self, or else that would just be selfishness.  Instead, because of that strong foundation, Jesus was able to turn outward, to empower others, to offer words of forgiveness and healing, to share Good News with the broken.

The church’s message is counter cultural to its core.  It’s a message of vulnerability.

Greatness doesn’t come in walling people off, it comes in letting people into your life.  being stone faced and hard-core in everything isn’t a sign of strength.  Rather, it is a sign for help.  Demanding compliance doesn’t show strength, it shows how weak you truly are.

Faith isn’t blind and it isn’t all just about belief.  Faith is meant to be lived out.  And that means being vulnerable.  It means being vulnerable to the point of seeing how faith is a gift given to you because you need it.

Faith without vulnerability is extremism.  And it’s destructive.  And it ends in death because it is empty and worthless.