God, the treasure in the vessel

Since God has so generously let us in on what he is doing, we’re not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run in occasional hard times.

Good Monday Morning to the week 44/2018

Eugene Peterson (1932-2018) has completed his “long obedience in the same direction.” The Presbyterian pastor, best known for authoring The Message Bible, died October 22nd at the age of 85.  I read Peterson’s paraphrased Bible because I find it accessible even poetic.  In The Message, the words come nearer and find new meaning through being more accessible to the modern reader.

I’ve just read two biographies of people going through immense trails even torture in their lives. I also think of a lot of you in the context you are in and know of many in situations of great adversity and challenge. I am greatly inspired by the verses
of 2 Corinthians 4: 7-12 starting with the translation from The Message:

If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us. While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best!

Then there are times I love the directness of KJV in Verse 7-8:
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

Or the Passion Translation of Verse 7-9:
We are like common clay jars that carry this glorious treasure within, so that the extraordinary overflow of power will be seen as God’s, not ours. Though we experience every kind of pressure, we’re not crushed. At times we don’t know what to do, but quitting is not an option. We are persecuted by others, but God has not forsaken us. We may be knocked down, but not out.

Or the Interlinear to the verses 7-9:
We know the treasures this in earthen vessels that the surpassingness of the power may be from God and not from us. In every way being hard pressed but not being crushed, being perplexed but not despairing, being persecuted but not being forsaken, being struck down but not being destroyed.

The splendor of the gold in these vessels, eclipsed in the minds of bystanders stand as symbols of the deity. As the vessel carrying the treasure that mediates the vision of Christ in his own ministry, Paul implies, it is actually preferable, even necessary that his bodily presence be weak, in order that the extraordinary power of the treasure he carries might be seen to be from God and not from himself.

 

Fitzgerald quotes Seneca:

If you see a man who is unterrified in the midst of dangers, untouched by desires, happy in adversity, peaceful amid the storm, … will not a feeling of reverence for him steal over you? Will you not say, “This quality is too great and too lofty to be regarded as resembling this petty body in which it dwells? A divine power has descended upon that man,” … A thing like this cannot stand upright unless it be propped by the divine.

Wishing you a blessed week!

Philemon

 

 

 

 

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