Weakness is the Way by J.I. Packer

weaknessisthewayTax season is here and with it come a relentless repetition of HR Block commercials. A month still remaining until tax day and a slew of new ads loop endlessly. Tax professional Richard Gartland's voice of panicked thrill is heard in every home: Get your billions back America!! Who doesn't love this idea?!! The opportunity to get back what once was lost appeals to all; and not only the recovery of lost tax dollars, but also the recovery of what we have apparently lost in other areas of life too. The assumption is that happiness and fulfillment is found only in regaining a position of power. But is this the way? We tell ourselves (as others tell us also), If I am to recover from the troubles of this life, and make the most of what's left, I must:

  • Regain the sense of power I once had
  • Learn to stand up for myself
  • Be an independent thinker
  • Achieve my dreams
  • Build a respected reputation

Again, is this the Christian way? Renowned theologian and Bible teacher J.I. Packer reflects on the Christian life in his book (2013) Weakness is the Way: Life with Christ Our Strength. Across 118 readable pages, Packer shares his own life experience of weakness - having been hit by a bread truck at a young age and now facing the realities of aging - in order to teach us the importance of embracing our own frailty, and also to help us look to Christ for strength, affirmation, and contentment (back cover).

Packer argues effectively, with a gentle pastoral hand, for the Christian way of weakness. By basing his meditations on Paul's second letter to the Corinthians, Dr. Packer debunks the notion that there is any other way to live the Christian life than by embracing the truth that the way of true spiritual strength, leading to real fruitfulness in Christian life and service, is the humble, self-distrustful way of consciously recognized weakness in spiritual things. Futhermore, Packer shows that

"in many respects, and certainly in spiritual matters, we are all weak and inadequate, and we need to face it. Sin, which disrupts all relationships has disabled us all across the board. We need to be aware of our limitations and to let this awareness work in us humility and self-distrust, and a realization of our helplessness on our own. Thus we may learn our need to depend on Christ, our Savior and Lord, at every turn of the road, to practice that dependence as one of the constant habits of our heart, and hereby to discover what Paul discovered before us: "when I am weak, then I am strong."

Here is the marrow of the book: weakness is, in fact, the way.

It took me only a couple of hours to carefully (word for word) read and understand Packer's thoughts...thoughts which are organized around four main heads:

1 About Weakness 2 Christ and the Christian's Calling 3 Christ and the Christian's Giving 4 Christ and the Christian's Hoping

If you have a bit of time on your hands, this little book will be a comfort and help to your soul by clarifying the Christian way of life: Weakness.

Book ReviewsRush Witt