“For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 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. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (Reference: 2 Corinthians 4:5-7 )
I wrote yesterday that I ask for assistance and support from God a great deal. I did not mean to make it sound as if the historic Anabaptists did not – I am sure they did. But they seemed to believe that suffering and persecuted, having hard times, trials and tribulations was par for being a Christian. “Modern” Christians like myself are more likely to yelp for help to God when tough times come around. Sometimes I think I should be “tough” like the historic Anabaptists and handle the hard times in my life like they did. Jerome Segers wrote to his wife who was also in prison and expecting their baby, “My most beloved wife Lijsken, redeem the time, be patient in tribulation, continue instant in prayer, and look constantly to the beautiful promises that are promised us everywhere, if we persevere unto the end.” That does not sound like yelping to God to me. Later in the letter he says, “We rejoice greatly in this treasure, which treasure is our faith, hope, and love; and these will not leave us destitute, even though they put us singly into dark dungeons, separated from one another.” I don’t know; maybe when there is no hope, there is no use in asking the burden to be lifted.
But then there is a part of me that says “No.” I do not need to go through my problems without God’s help. In fact I can ask God to solve my problems, or give my problems to God. I don’t need to prove anything!
Seger in his letter to his wife talks about the clay jars or earthen vessels as if they contained faith, hope and love; and that this treasure is so profound that it can not be hidden in these jars. He says, “And let us guard well the treasure; for we have this treasure in earthen vessels (2 Cor. 4:7), and cannot conceal it; it breaks out everywhere; it is far too precious to be hid.” But from my reading of some commentators, I have a slightly different perspective on this. They (the most easily understood being Albert Barnes) said that these earthen vessels are to represent human bodies – humanity – and that they are supposed to break and not be able to contain the treasure because the treasure is Divine but we are frail and easily broken. It is a mystery why God would put Divine treasure in clay jars, but that is a pondering for another time.
So I understand it this way; if I, clay jar, contain Divine treasure and I find myself “breaking apart” and needing God’s help . . . is that not what is supposed to happen so that the glory of God breaks forth instead of fortifying my clay body?! Could it not be part of God’s design that humanity confesses their weakness and need, and the glory of God breaks forth as God deals with those things we cannot?! Perhaps this is a perspective that the historic Anabaptists had, and I am not seeing it.
May you beloved earthen/clay jar be used by God to contain Divine treasure and may you burst forth so as to give God the glory. Selah!