God Needs More Cracked Pots
It appears that Terry Jones’ 15 minutes of fame has thankfully come to an end. Jones is the Florida preacher who announced that he and his Dove World Outreach Center would burn a big pile of Korans on September 11. This is, by the way, the same church that sent elementary kids to school on the first day of classes last year wearing “Islam is of the Devil” T-shirts. That got a little attention, but this threat to burn the Koran got Mr. Jones all kind of media face time and even drew comments (negative ones) from Gen. Petraeus and President Obama. For a time, Terry Jones replaced Fred Phelps as the top religious crackpot in the country. That's just what the church needs-- more crackpots like these clowns to cause our culture to take the Christian faith even less seriously than it does already!
But in our reading for today, Paul seems to think that what the church needs are more "cracked pots." No text captures Paul’s vision of himself as a servant of Christ better than does this—
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. (2 Corinthians 4:4-12)
Paul saw himself as a "jar of clay." The treasure Paul promoted was not worldly wealth or political clout—it was rather “the gospel of the glory of Christ” (v. 4). Paul saw himself as simply the flawed clay jar than contained and carried that blessed treasure. Paul did not promote himself in the way we see crackpots like Terry Jones doing today. Paul was just a jar of clay that contained the gospel.
We may have a bit of a problem understanding his point. Why? We see clay jars as pretty neat things. I brought back a clay crock pot as a souvenir from my first trip to Ukraine; it still sits in an honored place in my office (if you can find it beneath all the clutter). Wacky tourists used to come from all over the country to visit the Williamsburg Pottery Factory. We think jars of clay are valuable in themselves. But to Paul, a clay jar was just a common and disposable article that often contained something of value. He saw jars of clay much as we would view a disposable 2-liter plastic jugs. But unlike 2-liter bottles, clay jars were brittle and breakable. There was no value or strength in a jar of clay, and that was Paul’s point. The precious “gospel of glory” comes in very plain and very breakable clay pots! That is how Paul saw himself; and that is who we are. We are broken jars of clay who are blessed to carry the precious gospel of the glory of Christ.
What God needs today is a few more cracked-pots, broken jars of clay willing to give him their weakness. He doesn’t just need people who know all about Bible; He doesn’t require people who are right on all the issues. God is not looking today for “practically perfect people.” He is looking for flawed jars of clay willing to hold His treasure and carry that treasure to others. Strength and beauty aren’t in the clay pot; they reside only in that which the clay pot contains. The jar of clay may be ordinary and broken, but it can be used by God.