Weak humans do powerful works!
Let’s not always look at the numbers, admonishes Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider. What is matter of course for modern humans is unsuitable for spreading the gospel. God will complete His church through imperfect human beings.
Heilbronn, Germany, on 24 October 2021: the president of the international Church conducted a divine service for the ministers and their wives in the presence of all European Apostles. He based his sermon on 2 Corinthians 12: 9: “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’”
The fact that God’s strength is made perfect in weakness is a summary of the gospel, the Chief Apostle explained. This already began with Jesus. Initially, His work was successful. He did great miracles, which drew people’s attention to Him, so that thousands followed Him. Soon afterwards the situation reversed: He was rejected, abandoned, arrested, and killed. He went from strong and effective to very weak. But it was precisely in this weakness that the power of God was manifested. The Lord conquered death and rose again. “And this is the true message of the Christian faith!”
Paul, both weak and strong
Chief Apostle Schneider referred to Paul. What a champion of faith he was! And yet he had to contend with weakness: “When he spoke people did not automatically stop and listen to him. He was a poor speaker, he was sick, weak, and constantly troubled and in distress.” He was thrown into prison, had terrible experiences, was shipwrecked, and was tormented in public. And there were divisions and scandals in the churches at the time. “He was not very successful; in fact, he was dealing with problems everywhere. But this weakness was only the visible part. God blessed the work of Paul in such a way that we still benefit from it today.”
The Church, both weak and strong
“My strength is made perfect in weakness.” This also applies to the Church, the Chief Apostle said. The Church also began small; there were some accomplishments, which were followed by divisions again. Things started over and began to look promising. There were golden years and uninterrupted growth. “Every year there were record numbers of sealings. Today, when we come together, things look a little different.” Chief Apostle Schneider said: “Brothers and sisters, we cannot measure the success and effectiveness of God with human criteria. This is a fundamental statement.” Jesus trusted His Father. Until his very last breath, Paul believed in his mission and in the gospel. “This is also true for us. We must believe that Jesus Christ is present! We must believe that the Holy Spirit is active with His power and omnipotence. This cannot be measured with human standards.”
Weakness in the service of strength
Paul goes a step further and develops another approach, the Chief Apostle explained. It is normal, he said, for humans to be weak; this is the way it has to be. “We are weak so that we can put our trust in God and not in ourselves.” It is important, of course, not to show false humility, for example, by saying: “I can’t do this. I am too small for this; others must do this.” The better approach is to put our trust in God. “When God calls you, He knows exactly what you can do. Trust in His power! He can do perfect works with imperfect human beings.”
In our weakness we are dependent on God’s power; this is also something Paul taught. “This is something that does not fit into today’s world, into our own ideas. Modern man wants to understand everything, to be able to explain everything, to have everything under control: if you apply the right method at the right time and in the right way, it must work! And if not, we discard it.” But this principle has no place in matters of faith.
Don’t get in God’s way
“Paul says something else in His epistle: that we must not hinder the work of God.” He made his mark in the Gentile mission. If you look at the history of Christianity, you will see that from time to time the servants and the church were more important than Jesus Christ. “In order to defend the church as an institution and its interests, some cornerstones of the gospel were forgotten.” And in the history of the New Apostolic Church there were also times when the gospel was forgotten and there was an aggressive response to combat ‘evil opponents’. However: The gospel has absolute priority. It comes first!”
Let us use faith sparingly
Be sparing with your faith the Chief Apostle finally urged the congregation. “Faith has become a rare and precious commodity!” For modern people it has obviously become difficult to simply just believe. If someone believes in God that is already a lot. And because faith has become so rare, it must be used sparingly. “We must only appeal to faith when it comes to salvation. Faith is necessary for man’s relationship with God. Without faith it is impossible.” But in matters concerning the organisation or the functioning of the Church, when it comes to opinions, traditions, and rules faith is not called for. “Here we need to use our common sense, our knowledge and our expertise, and—above all—love for our neighbour! We need faith in God, faith in the gospel and in the teaching of Jesus Christ. We need faith when it comes to our relationship with God. For everything else we should not needlessly call on our faith.”
Grace makes us rich
In his closing remarks, Chief Apostle Schneider said that the words “My grace is sufficient for you” can be understood in a negative way. However, this is to simply be understood as an indication of how rich believers in God are. “My grace is sufficient for you” does not mean that we should be content with very little, but rather see this as a sign of wealth. “My grace is sufficient for you” is not a consolation, but simply an exhortation: be aware of how rich you are!”