As you read this week's scripture reading, consider what catches your attention, resonates with you or causes questions.
"Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
"But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.
But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture—‘I believed, and so I spoke’—we also believe, and so we speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
"So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal."
This passage contains one of the most famous part of 2 Corinthians, comparing humanity's role in carrying the Gospel to clay jars. Consider the reflections of two New Testament scholars below:
Dr Mark Allan Powell in Introducing the New Testament - “Just as precious treasure might be contained in nondescript jars of clay, so too the glorious gospel of God is advanced by frail and fragile agents whose lives exhibit the paradoxes that such a gospel entails.” (299)
Dr Walter F. Taylor Jr in Paul: Apostle to the Nations - “In response to the missionary conversation and preaching of the apostle Paul, you were baptized some months ago. It was a glorious event. You felt the Spirit’s surge of power then and for weeks afterward. Your belief in Jesus as the Christ is still solid, but you wonder why God’s power is not evident in your life in more obvious ways that can be seen by others. Because of that concern, your ears immediately pick up Paul’s remarks as his latest letter is read in the assembly of believers: ‘We have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us’ (2 Cor 4:7). You know all about clay jars. You store olive oil and wine in them at home, see them in most shops and all corner snack bars, and see pieces of broken jars everywhere you walk. Clay jars are wonderful objects in which to store things, but they do crack and can break - just like you. But God gives the treasure of the good news of Jesus to you, a very breakable yet usable clay jar. And that reminds you that the power is God’s and is hidden to unseeing eyes” (189).
How do you see yourself as a clay jar? How does your weakness reveal God's power? How do your relationships change if you that others are also clay jars?
Invitation to Prayer:
Ask God to continue to fill you with the Spirit and joy in the Gospel.
Ask God to reveal the ways that you can glorify God in your brokenness.
Pray for others who bear the Word of God to the world.
Share your wonderings, reflections and prayers with a friend, in our Facebook group or with firstname.lastname@example.org.