The Question I Brought Home

“So, how is vulnerability going for you?”

As my friends and I turned back into a small group huddle during our morning manuscript study, this question had me at a loss. We were more than an hour into our discussion of Matthew 25:31-46 and all of a sudden the passage hit me in new way.

I had read the familiar passage many times. I nodded along as we read Jesus’ words, “Whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

But one comment, one suggested implication just had me speechless. The least of these were not people “out there” but rather those who were following Jesus, those who were already his brothers and sisters. And they were vulnerable. They were hungry and thirsty, strangers and in need of clothes, sick and in prison. And “they” were us.

“So, how is vulnerability going for you?”

In the margins of my manuscript (a lovely, foldable printout of all the Bible stories we studied throughout Urbana), I began to write down types of vulnerability. You can be socially vulnerable, financially vulnerable, academically vulnerable, or professionally vulnerable. You can be physically vulnerable, spiritually vulnerable, or emotionally vulnerable.

As my small group began to talk together, I began to examine my own life. When have I felt vulnerable? When was I actually vulnerable? What have I experienced of God when I was vulnerable?

In my Urbana notebook, I set aside a page to write about these questions. It was a clean, blank page perfect to fill with insightful thoughts and reflections. Unfortunately, it’s still blank because this question is still swirling in my mind at home and I don’t have a crisp, clear thought to write down. The question is haunting:

“So, how is vulnerability going for you?”

However, looking back on 2015, I began to see this strange theme of vulnerability. I was part of a team challenged to be more vulnerable back in May. I had several of the most vulnerable conversations of my life this year. This last semester I felt the most academically and socially vulnerable of my entire time in college. Looking back I see how God shaped something out of my weakness and also how uncomfortable this whole vulnerability thing is for me.

So I did what any good Urbana participant would do - I went to the bookstore. Over the last week, I’ve been reading The Vulnerable Pastor by Mandy Smith. The book jumped out at me for obvious reasons given the title. Over and over, what I have been reminded of is that this life of following Jesus means we are involved in things so much bigger than our own skills and strengths, that we are limited and vulnerable as humans, but that living in our vulnerability is allows us and those around us to see God as God in his boundless power.

So I leave you with the same question that won’t let go of me:

“So, how is vulnerability going for you?”

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