As we continue to think about the fact that God is perfecting us, we need to have a look at 2 Corinthians 4:7. It’s the part in Pauls’ letter where, having described himself as Gods’ servant, and someone in whose heart God Himself has shone giving him ‘the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ’, he then refers to himself, and his fellow workers, saying ‘we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us’.
Other translations go for ‘earthen vessels’, ‘vessels of earth’, and ‘common clay jars’. I rather like common clay jars or pots, because earthenware in our culture can be quite expensive and desirable, but Paul is making a clear point here that, naturally speaking, there is nothing special about him or us, we are just ordinary people. The kind of ‘pots’ that are used everyday.
This gives us even more evidence that the Lord is not perfectionist with us, but this Lord who, the Old Testament tells us, won’t share His glory with another, Isaiah 42:8, actually comes, and because of what Jesus has done, lives in the likes of you and me; ‘common clay pots’. He doesn’t even wait until we’ve reached a certain minimum standard. Jesus actually said when praying to the Father for His, far from perfect, disciples “I have given them the glory that you gave me”, John 17:22.
We may want to smarten up the clay pot, even try to become a gold or silver one. But it’s important that we don’t believe that because God is in the process of perfecting us to be like Jesus, we can’t be used by Him if we aren’t yet perfect. If we do we may be in danger of putting on a religious façade, not realising that it’s more about Him, the one we are carrying, than the common clay pot He has chosen to inhabit.
We live in a culture of celebrity, and this can spill over into the church, but this is not the case in the Kingdom. God is not perfecting us to be super stars or celebrities in His family. The truth is that God sees us all as special. We are His beloved sons and daughters. We are all a work in progress, so don’t focus on the pot reconstruction, but let the Lord fashion you into the kind of ‘pot’ He wants you to be. Let the potter do His work. ‘Yet you O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the Potter; we are all the work of your hands’. Isaiah 64:8
The call of God on our lives is to live in an ordinary way, but carrying the treasure of God and letting it spill over wherever we go. You see no one else has your exact circle of friends, your colleagues and your family, and only you touch those lives in your unique way. So the Lord is perfecting us, not to become Christian superstars, but to carry and represent Him in the best way we can.
Sometimes our faults and failings which haven’t yet been dealt with by the Lord, (and those of others too), can cause us to be self critical and critical of others. This doesn’t always help us to ‘change’. Instead if we can keep our focus on staying filled to overflowing with the treasure He has placed within, by thanking Him and inviting him to fill us more and more, then His glory that we are carrying will become more and more evident.
I love the line in Dave Bilbrough’s song ‘An army of ordinary people’. That’s who Jesus is making us to be. An army of ordinary people filled with Him. We have to recognise that our journey is not about self improvement but about being filled and reflecting His glory. Our transformation comes as we look at Jesus and find ourselves transformed little by little into His likeness with ever increasing glory. 2 Corinthians 3:18. We are changed just one degree at a time as we look at Him in worship, read about Him in the Bible, respond to Him in our lives and, yes, give thanks to Him for all that the Holy Spirit is doing in us.