Summary: From part of Paul’s letter to the church of Corinth we learn that it is through our participation in Christ’s death and resurrection and by focusing on things unseen and our eternal destination that our inner person is renewed day by day with divine strength needed to love God and one another!
Do not Lose Heart
Online Sermon: http://www.mckeesfamily.com/?page_id=3567
“If Christians are prepared to be identified with Christ in a fallen world and accept whatever sufferings and afflictions they may thus encounter, they will share His glory.”
How do aliens live in a world that is not their own please their Creator? We are told in Scripture to please God we must love Him and one another (Matthew 22:37-40). Loving God starts with being adopted into His family through belief in the atoning sacrifice of His Son (John 3:16). Once born again the Spirit of God lives inside the person and guides him/her to know and obey the truth concerning their Master (John 16:13). We show we love others by sharing with them the treasure or pearl we found in Jesus (Matthew 13:44-46). To obey the command to “go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:16-20) or to “be ready to give reasons why we have hope in the Lord” (1 Peter 3:15) is not an easy task because the Light within exposes the darkness of the soul. If we are to be good witnesses of the love of God, then we simply must draw nearer to Him but in doing so the Light will expose our own sins, invite confession, and often discipline (1 John 1:9; Hebrews 12:6). Also, when we go out into the world and demonstrate both in word and deed the Gospel message our Light will shine, expose the darkness of those on the broad path and they in turn will persecute us (John 3:20-21); after all, no one wants to be shown their goals, dreams and accomplishments are vanity and will only lead to their destruction! To make matters even more difficult we are but mere jars of clay who experience constant physical decay and eventual death! Faced with the constant need to change from within, persecution from others and the constant decaying of our bodies it is very easy to lose heart and give up in defeat of either truly loving God or those created in His image! From part of Paul’s letter to the church of Corinth we learn that it is through our participation in Christ’s death and resurrection and by focusing on things unseen and our eternal destination that our inner person is renewed day by day with divine strength needed to love God and one another! Let us look in more detail the reasons why Paul says we are not to lose heart when proclaiming God’s love.
Glorification of God’s Power
Paul states we are not to lose heart when we profess the name of the Lord because “we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” The treasure Paul speaks of is the knowledge of God in the face of Christ that lives within the believer. Let the gravity of what Paul is saying sink into your soul for it is invaluable for a created being, even in the image of God, to know and have a relationship with one’s Creator! Despite being “powerlessness in the face of suffering, decay, and death,” the “life of God’s Son is manifested and glorified” in our frail human bodies. Paul masterfully uses the metaphor “jars of clay” to signify the weakness of our bodies that will one day return to the dust in which they were formed. Jars of clay were commonplace in the ancient Middle East and while they were useful in storing water, oil, grain, cooking, eating, and drinking; they had little intrinsic value for they were fragile and rarely lasted longer than a couple of years. Even though God shines in our hearts and chooses us to share His Gospel message through us, we must never forget the power to overcome weaknesses, sicknesses, injuries, hardships, pressures, frustrations and disappoints of our fallen natures is not overcome by our effort but only through the power of our Creator! Paul draws a sharp contrast between our fragile, sinful nature and the Gospel message to ensure that no one would be tempted to take credit for His all surpassing power for salvation is His work alone, not ours (1 Corinthians 2:5; 3:7). It is in our weakness that God’s power is made a perfect (12:9) witness to the world for by the same power that He raised Christ from the dead He brings life to our souls, a divine task that is impossible to attain by our own effort! This treasure is invaluable for our witness to the world for we do not point to ourselves as examples of faith, and rightly be called hypocrites, but to God whose holiness is absolute and the source of their very lives!
God Sustaining Presence
Even though we are hard pressed on every side, perplexed, persecuted, and often struck down for obeying God’s command to share the Light amongst those living in darkness, we are to rejoice for God promises we will not be crushed, we will not live-in utter despair, not be abandoned, or destroyed. To let our Light shine not only within but amongst the world invites trials, tribulations, and great persecutions! Later in this letter Paul says he five times received from the Jews forty lashes minus one, three times beaten by rods, once pelted with stones, three times shipwrecked, and was always had both Jews and Gentiles trying to do him bodily harm (11:20). And yet despite being sent out like sheep amongst ravenous wolves (Matthew 10:16), like the king David Paul feared no evil (Psalms 23) for he knew that God never leaves nor forsake but sustains His own! Even though the world might see us as “feeble and foolish sufferers,” it is often through God enabling us to divinely survive the most devastating blows of the evil one that His Gospel message of grace and mercy becomes the clearest to the fallen of this world! While Paul is primarily talking about sustaining persecution during evangelism in this passage, one should not dismiss too quickly the possibility that trials, and tribulations are not the product of God wanting someone else to change but for one to repent so that what is getting in way of one obtaining experiential knowledge of God and the fullness of Christ might be obtained. “So it’s the Jesus factor that unveils the knowledge of God and it’s never unveiled any more than when life is not working but praise be that when one invites God to work in one’s life one is divinely enabled to withstand His refining fire.”