God Can Get Pretty Far with a Clay Jar
Sermon shared by Daryn Bahn
Summary: There is always hope for what God can do in our lives!
Audience: Believer adults
God did not, has not, and will not write us off. He will not give up on us even though we may be tempted to give up on ourselves, to resign our selves and say, “well, this is just the way I am, I will never amount to anything. I’m just the scum of the earth. I’m like the pottery that the Old Testament talks about that the potter throws away and smashes. I just cannot break my wicked habits.” It’s easy for us to imagine that God has already given up on us, that there’s no hope. And yet God can get pretty far with a clay jar. He can do a lot with a clay pot. We may feel like we have been flattened, crushed, and torn, “But,” as Paul says, “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”
I get the impression that Paul is talking about clay pots that have not been dried in a kiln. They are still bendable, still able to be formed and molded and shaped by the Potter, even though the process may be painful. “God’s not done with me yet,” we can say. He has not written me off. Neither has he written you off. Paul continues by saying, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” Those are pretty amazing words. On the one hand they clear up the false notion that nothing painful happens to Christians. Paul, in fact, uses the term, “godly sorrow,” in this letter. On the other hand, they give us a glimpse that there is more to life than we can see with our eyes or even understand with our minds. Even if we should die, as believers in Christ we are not abandoned by Him nor destroyed. He is waiting to bring us home. Though God loves us, the mystery of that love is that He sometimes allows us to suffer for a purpose known only to him.
Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is able to identify some of the reasons for his suffering. He is a jar of clay with a purpose, and so are we. It’s the ultimate example of what’s inside being the thing that counts. Our outward distress and our weakness, even to the point of death, can serve to emphasize that treasure that is within us, the life of Christ, the death and resurrection of Christ, the power of Christ’s forgiveness, the awesome wonder of His love. We are just pottery, so to speak, but inside we have been given this treasure, the gift of faith, to believe in and trust in a Savior who stubbornly refuses to write us off.
Rev. Robert Roegner, who now is the Executive Drector of the Board for Mission Services, or LCMS World Mission, began his ministry as a church planter among the Kisi people in Nigeria, West Africa. He told us at the convention that when he began his ministry, people would run away in fear, calling him the “white bogeyman”. Yet God did not give up on him or his ministry there or on the people he was trying to reach.
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