Strong Isn't Enough

January 9, 2013

Luke 1:67-79

"The child grew and became strong in spirit..."

Quinn G. Caldwell

The Gospel writer is here telling us about the infant John the Baptizer.  I feel like the writer must have left some stuff out, though.  Seems to me John wouldn't have gotten very far if all he'd been was strong in spirit.

Seems to me that being strong in spirit is a little like being strong in body: if all you are is strong and not also flexible or agile, you might end up lumbering around with your hands hanging a foot from your waist and having to turn your whole torso when you want to look to the side.  If all you are is strong and not also gentle, generous, or wise, you might end up a big bully.  If all you are is strong and not also brave, you might end up totally useless.

Don't you know people who are spiritually "strong," but who are completely inflexible, or who bully everybody who's not as strong as they are, or who don't achieve anything much except spouting a bunch of pious stuff?  Aren't the airwaves and the Web full of them?

The church at its best has always striven to inculcate not just spiritual strength in its kids, but also flexibility, gentleness, generosity, wisdom, bravery.  Christian formation at its best isn't all heavy lifting and wind sprints.  It's yoga and deep breathing, ballroom dance lessons and rock climbing, team rowing and synchronized swimming.

For the Christian, as I assume for John, "strong" just isn't enough.

Prayer

God, make our kids strong, but don't stop there, and don't let us, either.  Amen.

About the Author
Quinn G. Caldwell is Pastor and Teacher at Plymouth Congregational Church, UCC, in Syracuse, New York, and co-editor, with Curtis J. Preston, of the Unofficial Handbook of the United Church of Christ, published by The Pilgrim Press.

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