Jars of Clay

Posted: November 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

I, for one, am so thankful that the Lord has chosen to work in and through weak, ordinary people to accomplish His purposes. I am so thankful that it is His will to use broken and messed up churches like ours to share the gospel. And personally, I am grateful that it was and is His good and sovereign will to teach and bless our family in and through our daughter and her “disability”. God’s ways are so much higher than ours!

And the reason I say all this is that I was thinking about yesterday’s election and all the power brokering and self-promotion that is connected with it. And thinking about how we are so easily impressed and attracted to things like power and wealth in this celebrity saturated, fame seeking culture that we live in. Which again is why we need to be so thankful that God has chosen to work in and through the plain and humble. As Paul writes,

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” – 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 (ESV)

Here is how R.C. Sproul Jr. put this as he reflected on the recent loss of both his wife and disabled daughter…

We live in an age of celebrity.  The British philosopher George Berkeley  (pronounced Bark-lee) is remembered for this Latin nugget, esse est percipi, to be is to be perceived. In our day we have come to believe that to be is to be on TV, that you aren’t there, or at least real, unless you are on a reality show. Fame is the stuff of essence. In the church we set our sites (pun intended) a smidge lower. If you are published in the right magazines, speak at the right conferences, if your books or blog posts are read by the right people, then you are worthy to be watched.  You are judged to be mighty in the kingdom.

When Jesus tells us that the last will be first He is not saying the way to get that big book contract is to be the worst writer. He isn’t saying that if you develop a stutter you will surely get a slot at the big evangelical mega-conference. I would suggest that He is instead telling us that it is being last that is of the utmost importance. I suggest that the kingdom is changed, that its beauty is made more visible, that its King is more delighted, when we serve faithfully where we can’t be watched.  Denise loved and served her children and her husband, where only we would see. Shannon loved and served her parents and her siblings where only we would see. And now they both continue to serve their Lord where I cannot see. They are great in the kingdom, as they were on earth greater than the great, more powerful than the mighty.

The great things that we aspire to do for the kingdom are not great because they are visible. Neither, however, are they great because they are invisible. Rather they are great because they reflect His glory. When we give to those who cannot give back, we give as He gives. The kingdom friends comes with changing diapers. The kingdom roars in a quiet kiss goodnight.  Fame will not make you live forever. Jesus will. Because Jesus changes everything.

“We have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” – 2 Corinthians 4:7 (ESV)


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