Vulnerable and Honest about it
My impression is that “vulnerable” is a word that is not used very often – except, of course, in the context of the HIV pandemic, where it has become a buzzword. We often hear the message that people need to be sensitised to the particular vulnerability of many groups and that we all have to face our own vulnerability to HIV infection.
When Paul admits his weaknesses in verse 10 (“I take pleasure in my weaknesses” – NLT), he is not referring to a specific risk of infection or sickness. He is acknowledging his own humanness – specifically in the sense that he as human being is weak and has to live with the risk of “insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities”. When we compare this passage with Romans 7:15-23, it becomes clear that Paul is also honest about his own ability to sin.
According to Romans 7:24-25 and 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul focuses on Christ who saves sinners and who works through weak human beings.
It is good to acknowledge your vulnerability to HIV infection, but as a Christian it is also important to become aware of ourselves as being vulnerable, weak, at the risk of being wounded, prone to make mistakes, to sin. It is important to be honest about this with ourselves as well as with others.
To confess with Paul that “the power of Christ (can) work through me” (verse 9b – NLT), while at the same time believing and pretending that you are actually strong, invincible and not prone to failure or sin, is dishonest.
Before we reach out with unconditional love to people with particular vulnerabilities, we have to come to terms with our own vulnerability.