Archive for the ‘#tenacity’ Tag

Priceless Treasure in Cheap Storage   Leave a comment

Archivists take great care with historical documents as do those of us who want to preserve vintage clothing or antique furniture. So this passage Paul wrote to the Corinthians should have resonance with us in that context, but it also has deep theological meaning and practical application to the Christian life.

But we have this treasure in clay jarsso that the extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are experiencing trouble on every side, but are not crushedwe are perplexed, but not driven to despair; we are persecutedbut not abandoned; we are knocked down, but not destroyed, always carrying around in our body the death of Jesusso that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our body. For we who are alive are constantly being handed over to death for Jesus’ sakeso that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our mortal body. 

As a resultdeath is at work in usbut life is at work in you. But since we have the same spirit of faith as that shown in what has been written, “I believedtherefore I spoke,” we also believetherefore we also speak. We do so because we know that the one who raised up Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus and will bring us with you into his presence. For all these things are for your sakeso that the grace that is including more and more people may cause thanksgiving to increase to the glory of God. Therefore we do not despair, but even if our physical body is wearing awayour inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary, light suffering is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison because we are not looking at what can be seen but at what cannot be seenFor what can be seen is temporarybut what cannot be seen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:7-18

Image result for image of treasures in clay jarsIn the 1st century, earthen (pottery) vessels were commonplace. They were used for everything from storing water and treasures, to the base for oil lamps. On the one hand, they were sturdy and durable, but on the other hand, fragile. Drop a clay pot and it shatters. It was an inexpensive vessel for storage.

Paul clearly wrote that his own sufferings, and his attitude toward them, were an instructive example for the afflictions that the Corinthian Christians also experienced. Our weakness shows that the power comes from God. A similar lesson is stated in 2 Corinthians 12:9: God’s power is made perfect in human weakness. And in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29: God calls the weak and foolish, so no one can boast.

As Paul persevered in preaching the gospel despite the persecutions that came, he demonstrated that he was motivated not by selfish benefit but by devotion, and he was empowered not by human power or reasoning, but by God working in and through him. The lesson is still valid as Christians in some nations suffer overt persecution for preaching Christianity or for converting to Christianity.

In most of Western society today, persecution is more subtle. The academic world may sneer at faith; the economic world may ridicule those who have scruples; group-identity advocates may not want to associate with people who do not accept homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle, those who have been married multiple times may find the monogamy of Christianity to be stifling and there are those who will overtly state that Christians should not be allowed to vote as they see fit or raise our children according to our values. Non-Christians may have more employment options and may make more money. When we face such discrepancies in society, our lack of anxiety about our disadvantages testifies to our belief that the things of this world are passing away, and our faith that a far greater reward is at stake. When we face trials that strike believer and unbeliever alike, our calmness and positive approach can likewise show we have knowledge and hope of life and reward in a new aeon. People can see that we have hope in a situation that appears hopeless, and such contrast may lead them to inquire about our faith and to give it credence because its value is demonstrated.

In our afflictions, our life follows the pattern of Jesus. In our current state, especially in our day-to-day trials, our bodies manifest mortality, such as Jesus Himself had. Yet we also manifest eternal life, the life of Jesus in us. His life is shown in the message we share and in the lifestyle decisions we make. We have life evident in us, and that life is energized by faith (4:10-11, 18) — faith that our life will continue to follow the pattern of Jesus, that we will also be raised into glory (4:14, 17). Our determination comes not from human stubbornness or grit, but from God, and the life of Jesus, and the Spirit of faith. We of course have nothing to boast of, for it is all done for the glory of God.

Our life illustrates the “not yet” paradox of Christianity: The consequences of mortality are evident in our bodies, and our faith in eternal life is evident in the way we respond to that mortal weakness. We worship a Being Who had a life of suffering and a death of shame Who also had a triumphant resurrection and now has a life of glory. We, in this “not yet” phase of the kingdom of God, are given opportunity to follow this pattern. Few of us actually have a shameful death, but all Christians should be willing to endure it if necessary for the kingdom of God. Most of us escape overt persecution, but all of us should be faithful if it comes. Why? Because we believe and trust that God will give us glorious, spiritual, eternal life. We believe, and therefore we do whatever God calls us to do. Our afflictions will be followed by glory.

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