The difference in a simple preposition!
2Cor. 13:3 since you desire proof that Christ is speaking in me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful in you.
2Cor. 13:4 For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God.
The tiny prepositions in these two scriptures jump out at me today. What a difference little words like "in" "by" and "with" can make. These simple words define where we may be in relation to God as Paul tries to draw the Corinthians on to a deeper walk with Christ. This Corinthian church is a tough crowd and Paul is speaking to them with clear language. Paul himself is "in" Christ. He has united himself to Christ to the point that he has "put on" Christ and is allowing everything about the Christ nature to permeate his very being. However, the Corinthians were not "in" Christ -- but were somewhere close by. Therefore Christ has to deal "with" them -- and can be powerful if "in" them. Christ was crucified in weakness -- not his own -- but "by" human weakness. The jealousy and fear of certain humans, their very weaknesses put him on the cross. But while human weakness may have crucified Christ, "by" the power of God, Christ has overcome the weaknesses of man and he lives! We as humans are weak in him, because we willingly give up our own human strength and desires for the very purpose that we can live "in" him "by" the power of God. I willingly give up my human weaknesses -- the things that crucified Christ, so that I can live "in" resurrection power.
So we must ask ourselves what we might be living "in" today. If we are continuing to live "in" ourselves, then we are living in weakness. We are single, simple, little humans living here on this earth. God may have placed all kinds of skills and abilities within us, but we are still single entities living on our own and in weakness, if we are on our own. This is not God's intention for humanity. God's intention is that we are "in" him. That's how he created each and every single one of us. We may only become what he fully intended for us to become when we are "in" him. We can't be "by" him, or "near" him, we have to be "in" him. That means that we have to give up our rights to ourselves and come into such a relationship with him that, that we are literally "in" him in all things.
We are "in" a relationship with him on a daily basis. He is the object of all of our love, desire and attention. By remaining daily in this intense relationship with him, he leads us, guides us and most importantly, gives us strength for the day. Paul was weak on his own, but when he was "in" Christ, he was a strong man. It is when God uses our human weaknesses to change the world that people are in awe. Why? Because they can't imagine that these people are the ones that God wants to use -- and in the midst of God using the unlikely -- God is glorified.
How often do we measure people by our human standards -- by the skills and abilities which they possess? Even those working in the kingdom do this. We have assessments tools to determine who might be the best for particular jobs and/or abilities. However, the person who is best for the work of the kingdom is the one who is so plugged "into" living in Christ that the power of God is revealed in all they do. It's not about the person, it's about who the person is "in." When I am weak -- then he is strong!
The question is one of a simple preposition -- where am I in relation to Christ? Am I "in" or just somewhere close "by?" One is strength, and the other is weakness.
Lord, please help me to be "in" you every single day of my life. I want the power of Christ to be glorified "in" my life. Amen.