Identifying vulnerability in community

Published 10:17 pm Wednesday, September 26, 2018

By QuaWanna Bannarbie

The “Five Ws” is known as a strategy for information gathering and research. It is also a method used in storytelling and writing. As I begin this series on the topic of vulnerability in community, it is important to first tackle the question of what — What is vulnerability in community?

To get to that, I think you must first consider the meaning of vulnerability in general.

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Human beings consider vulnerability in a relational sense. We think of vulnerability of being exposed to potential hurt, harm, damage or disappointment inflicted on us by another person or group. If you take those words in definition and cancel out the negative aspects of hurt, harm, damage or disappointment, you have the basis of communal vulnerability.

Vulnerability in community is the state of being exposed to the potential within a person or group. It could also mean the state of being in contact or connection with a person’s or group’s potential.

The word “potential” is important to this expository on vulnerability. Potential energy is defined as the energy possessed by a body by virtue of its position relative to others. In science, the potential is relative to various parts of a system. In life, the potential is relative to various contact with people. You may never know the potential within a person or group without contact with them.

Imagine you are about to conduct a science experiment with five items: an empty bottle that has a cork top, a cup of distilled white vinegar, a cup of water, a coffee filter and a tablespoon of baking soda. Anyone who has done this experiment knows that these items make a pretty awesome volcanic eruption when they are in contact with each other. If the items were never in contact, we would never experience their great power. The experiment is a reminder to us of the result of bringing potential together. Potential in contact converts to power. We do not want explosive and eruptive relationships, but we do want to experience power. The power we should want to experience comes from dealing with one another.

The word of God encourages us that we have the power to live as Jesus Christ lived within the state of communal vulnerability. Several scriptures speak of the importance of communion as believers. Yet, there is one that I believe speaks to the powerful result of vulnerability. 2 Corinthians 13:4 states, “For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him in our dealing with you” (New International Version).

Jesus, crucified at the hands of His community, made Himself vulnerable, lives by the power of God. Through our witness, our testimonies, our ministry, our work, our compassion for others, our surrender, our “yes,” our assembly together, we “deal” with each other daily in vulnerable ways. Our dealings with others prove or demonstrate our likeness to the Savior’s vulnerability.

Christ demonstrated to us that real power surrenders to the death of the human nature and is led by the Spirit of God. Without community, we cannot learn how to be abased. Self wants glory for itself. Therefore, vulnerability in community helps us surrender that life that seeks honor for itself in exchange for an eternal life that seeks to live for God. We subject ourselves to the potential within the people who God places in our lives. Your potential in connection to my potential could result into something powerful. Are you willing to be vulnerable to be powerful?

In next week’s article, we will answer another of the Five Ws when we share more about who is vulnerable in community.

QuaWanna Bannarbie is an adjunct professor of nonprofit leadership and management with Indiana Wesleyan University, National and Global. Her children attend Suffolk Public Schools. Connect with her via Twitter @QNikki_Notes.