Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A simple jar of clay

 "We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from ourselves." (2 Corinthians 4:7).  I've never had trouble thinking of myself as a simple jar of clay, one made more for utility than decoration.  I know what I am, what I am not, so this verse has long sung to me in a key I know well.  But when Paul writes of this clay vessel and the treasure within, it helps to understand that in in the first century, crude clay pots were made for a specific purpose.  Silver and gold, obtained in war, were melted down and poured into these pots.  These pots were like a safety deposit box, hiding immeasurable wealth within earthen vases.  When the jars of clay were broken, the silver or gold was revealed.

Knowing this makes Paul's words even more meaningful, doesn't it?  The verses following this one speak of being pressed on all sides, but not crushed and broken. But in some real sense, which is born out in Paul's lists of sufferings found in chapters 6, 11, and 12, it is in our brokenness that His glory is most clear to the world.  I don't know exactly why this is so, I don't know why God chose to use the 'foolish of the world to shame the wise and the weak things of the world to shame the strong;' it certainly isn't the way any human would do it.  But if there's one thing I know, it's that God's ways are not our ways, and that we're created to reflect His glory, rather than giving out our own measly light.  Therefore, if it takes my brokenness to reveal Him in my life, if it's only when I'm chipped and cracked and fragmented (which are all words these women used yesterday to describe the condition of the clay pot that is themselves), that Christ is revealed, so be it.  In some fundamental way, because of sin, because I live on this earth and bear the marks of Eve in my body, I will never be any more than a mended clay pot.  A forgiven one.

It's only in a new pot, in a new body, in my Father's House, that both the treasure and the pot willl shine in equal measure.  Well, maybe that's not so.  Maybe...even then I'll be a simple jar of clay.  But what will be reflected in me, what will shine will be like the bright morning star.  I can only imagine.

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