Thursday, February 7, 2008

Jars of Clay

I have been reading 2 Corinthians. Today, I read one of my favorite chapters, Chapter 4.

In verses 1-4, Paul calls on believers to be ministers of the truth. In verses 5-6, he calls us to preach the simple truth that Jesus Christ is Lord, even though the world may be blinded to this truth. In verses 7-12, he calls us to minister out of earthen vessels.

In referring to us as earthen vessels or clay pots, Paul emphasizes our weakness and frailty as human beings. But in these earthen vessels, we carry a treasure – the truth of the gospel, the Good News that Jesus Christ has died to pay the penalty for our sins, that He has been resurrected to new life (thereby guaranteeing our own eternal life), and has ascended into heaven where He now serves as our Advocate. Our weakness demonstrates that the power and the glory are not from us, but from God. The power of God is revealed in our affliction. We are inadequate, but God is sufficient.

From the first day that we knew that we might be facing cancer, we (my wife and I) made a decision to glorify God. Today, my first thoughts are not, God please heal me! (although I do want to be healed), but God, be glorified through my affliction. If there is any way that you can use me, please do so. Demonstrate your power in my weakness.

Ray Stedman, in Authentic Christianity, wrote this about our weakness and God’s glory:

By design God entrusts this secret to failing, faulty, weak, and sinful people so it will be clear the power does not originate from us. It isn’t the result of a strong personality, or of a keen and finely honed mind or of good breeding and training. No, it arises solely from the presence of God in the heart. Our earthiness must be as apparent to others as the power is, so that they may see that the secret is not us but God. That is why we must be transparent people, not hiding our weaknesses and failures, but honestly admitting them when they occur.

When people perceive any strength in me during this time of affliction, I want them to know that it is the strength of the Lord. I am weak. He is strong. Any vitality that I have arises from the life of Christ in me. He is my hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).

Ron Ritchie wrote:

All humanity is formed out of the dust. We are all jars of clay, and as such we face afflictions, perplexities, persecutions, and trauma physically, emotionally, and spiritually. When we become Christians we are not suddenly lifted above the normal (and abnormal) circumstances of life. We are the same jars of clay, only now we contain the treasure of the life and power of the resurrected Christ within us! Therefore we have strength to cope with all the realities that God brings into our lives. If we choose to allow the Lord to live through us, we are no longer crushed, despairing, abandoned, or destroyed. Instead we are now able to see how God uses all these circumstances to his honor and glory, to bring us to spiritual reliance on him and into spiritual maturity.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I am not spared any pain or sorrow – except that of eternal separation from God. Instead, I have the promise that God will never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5) and that He will use all these afflictions for His glory and my growth in righteousness.

It seems that God best displays the brilliance of His grace against the backdrop of our dark and even blackest moments. Somehow, His grace is made all the more glorious when people see it at work in the lives of those who suffer. Joni Tada


Anonymous said...

Mr Bond - - -
You are such a good writer, very easy to read and understand. Your writing is so real and inspiring. Today is the first day that I have logged on to read your blog. I have now added you to my "favorites" and plan to check it each week. I will pray for you and your family that this upcoming week is an easier one for you. Keep being that great encourager that you are. I know that God has great plans and blessings for each of you. Chrystal Shaffer

Michael Family Blessings said...

I don’t know what to say about the points you raised. I have undergone Family Blessings a lot of times now, so I guess I couldn’t put in a negative word or two. I do like how you got your views across. Good luck to you.