How Christians should boast
A moving testimony to God's faithfulness embedded in this week’s notices. I have written before about baby Henry Dalgoutte diagnosed with a brain tumour last January on the day he turned 13 months old. Since then, he has undergone several surgeries and at least one intense course of chemotherapy. Many of us follow his Facebook community page, written by his mother, Katie, Henry the Handsome’s journey. This morning it has a pleasing 2222 likes. We have been praying for Henry each week and I was privileged to visit them both at Addenbrooke’s Hospital earlier this year. Then on 31 March the entry we had all been praying for: “We got last week's scan results today. No evidence of disease in the spine either.
Next scan of both is June, but until then we will smile and try to have lots of fun!” 504 likes, 29 comments. Great news! Henry indeed is on a journey, a very tough one. But we can thank God for the remarkable love and resilience of his family as well as the skill and commitment of his medical team. Here, in them, we can see God at work. It is, of course, hugely encouraging when we can share such answers to prayer, as gran Fran does in our notices. In fact, this week I myself have been similarly encouraged by a remarkable response by God to prayer and in particular to a series of steps of faith which at the time seemed altogether reckless. Except that God keeps his word. I mentioned this in a blog last December. Frustratingly I cannot share this, except to say it does not involve Christ Church or anyone’s health. And like a super-injunction, I cannot say why I cannot share it, even with close friends. For we have to watch our motives when we share testimonies of God in our lives, especially his responses to any ventures of faith. It can so easily degenerate into the spiritual equivalent of the Monty Python Four Yorkshiremen sketch. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe1a1wHxTyo And as vicar you never quite get used to church members recounting tales of remarkable miracles encountered in other churches. There was even one church, I recall, where the dead were regularly raised. Of course, if dead people are raised to life, we bless God for his grace and refuse to take 10% of the credit. The apostle Paul was invited to join such a contest by some of the members of the church in Corinth. It seems that there were other leaders, claiming apostleship, who simply were more impressive than him. Better speakers, bigger miracles: they had presence. Clearly hurt, Paul writes: “I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the ‘super-apostles’ even though I am nothing. (2 Corinthians 12:11). And more, he refuses to be put down by these pretenders. “I do not think I am in the least inferior to those ‘super-apostles’.” (11:5) But it is the way he does it which catches our breath. I have no doubt that the apostle Paul experienced more signs and wonders in one afternoon than I have in my entire ministry. But he refused to rely on these as evidence of his ministry. In fact, the very opposite. “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” (11:30) He then goes on to recount one of the many humiliations he experienced as a direct result of proclaiming Christ, in his escape from Damascus in a basket. Hardly a claim for spiritual status. For Paul understood the dynamics of the Kingdom of God. It is that God works best when we are at our weakest. It is one thing to understand that truth, it is altogether a new ball game to live by that understanding and give God all the glory. And so his remarkable conclusion: “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (12:10)