“…we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Cor 4:7-9)
One of the most common things one would find in a rubbish tip would be rusty old tin cans, bottles and broken shards of pottery. Stuff that might excite archaelogists in a few hundred years perhaps but holds no interest to us we didn’t buy the containers really, its was the stuff in them that mattered.
Paul was a bit concerned that his readers were falling victims of the image culture. Things that look good, sound good, taste good or feel good are incredibly highly prized in this world because we are not encouraged to look deeper. Sadly the image culture extracts a painful price from those who don’t match up – such people spend their lives depressed and rejected, feeling they have nothing to offer.
Paul does not want us to feel this way – he does not want us to give up or become dejected because the world is not blown away by our wonderful external attractiveness.
In fact he wants us to rejoice in our apparent ordinariness because its not us that should shine but the one who lives in us.
There is great treasure in these common jars of clay and that treasure is all surpassing power from God. God will win the battle against the powers of sin, the flesh and the devil, not because he has picked the most impressive team, but because he is the most powerful force in the universe.
God is not a shallow show-off, true he can move mountains, but he is far more concerned with moving hearts. He has a program of salvation that was worked out from the beginning of time and by grace you have been selected to play a part. The world does not need to see icons but ordinary people with normal humans problems who can speak honestly and realistically about the transforming power of God’s grace.
You play that part best when you take your eyes off your external qualities and place your eyes firmly on the power that God has placed within you. You are an instrument in his hands – he did not make a mistake when he chose you, nor did he slip up when he placed you where you are.
We foolishly imagine that being impressive in a worldly sense attracts people to the Gospel. In actual fact it can have the opposite effect it can make people think that God is only interested in impressive people. We are not meant to lift the bar but to show how low it is. When people see us and know we are God’s beloved children it might be good for them to be able to say; “If God could chose him, there’s hope for me yet!”.
In any case it’s a much greater surprise and delight to find a diamond in a rusty old tin than it is to see them in the window of a Jewelry shop.
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