Clay Jars or Crack Pots
"Fragile human beings who handle difficulty so differently that people are attracted to them."
That is my definition of the Biblical reference to jars of clay in the first century.
Those in palaces did not use clay jars for their valuables. Oh, you would have found them in the kitchen and the outhouse. For everything but the most ordinary functions, they used gold, silver, other metals, and well cured ceramics. Expensive liquids were not put into clay jars; they were stored in expensive, sturdy containers. In fact, it would be easy to be as impressed with the container as it was with the contents inside. "What an impressive pitcher you have," you might have said as the hostess poured your drink. Those were not ordinary clay pots presented to Jesus by the Magi, as they worshipped Him with gold, frankincense and myrrh. Those were expensive containers.
Clay jars in the first century were ordinary, common, easily broken, often discarded. They were used for carrying water and other ordinary functions, as trash containers, even as toilets. They would not have appeared as a main character in the cartoon version of "Beauty and the Beast." Bottom of the household totem pole, but functional.
So it's terribly humbling to realize that the Apostle Paul tells us we are clay pots. Harshly unflattering. It would not be so bad if he was talking about our lives B.C. (before Christ), but he's talking about after we have Christ in us. What is that about? Look at this.
2 Corinthians 4:4-12 (NIV) "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 6 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you."
Here it is:
God puts the unbelievable, inconceivable, unthinkable, unimaginable, implausible treasure of the Universe "the very Presence of the Almighty God of the Universe" IN US! You'd think that would make us expensive containers. Precious contents go in valuable containers - that would make perfect human sense. But no.
He places this most precious treasure in "jars of clay." Why? So that others will see and experience the treasure of Christ rather than being impressed with us. Remember the earlier definition of clay jars? �Fragile human beings who handle difficulty so differently that people are attracted to them.�
What happens when a clay pot gets jostled around, bumped, passed from one person to another, or even cracked? The contents spill out. Or in the Apostle Paul's words, what happens when a fragile human being who is filled with Christ is 'hard pressed' perplexed'persecuted'struck down'faces death�' That person spills out the Presence of Christ on all in the area, filling the place with the aroma of Christ. What happens if it is not jostled? That treasure just sits there.
The jostling in our lives is not because God has abandoned us at all. It is because He believes in us as His treasure holders who spill His Presence.
Problem is that too often we whine when we're jostled, spilling out stuff that does not look, smell or taste like Christ because we've never learned or somehow forgotten that we are clay pots filled with Christ. Rather than cracked and leaking a treasure that attracts toward Heaven, we've simply become "crack pots."
What will it be for you?