“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7
This is the key verse to understanding how the new covenant works – the interplay between God and us, and how God gets His message across through us. Understand and act on this, and you will not be ineffective in your Christian life.
Notice that it starts with that same conjunction “but” that we encountered when Paul had just confessed his anxiety over not finding Titus in Troas, and had left behind an opportunity for spreading the gospel there, only to say, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us ...” He set up one thing, and contrasts it with another. He should be anxious over Titus, guilty over walking by a door the Lord had opened for him, and depressed over the whole thing. Instead, he is thankful and confident that he is being led in Christ’s victory, and even being put on display.
Here, the “but” is referring to the incredible treasure we all contain described as “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ,” (vs 6) and yet that treasure is going to be housed in a most unlikely – perhaps even inappropriate – place. You won’t believe it when you hear it. It’s almost a joke, the contrast is so significant. All that glory and brightness and presence is going to be where? In you and me? You’ve got to be kidding!
The contrast is everything. The contrast is the whole point. Anything we do to eliminate that contrast is to take away from the effectiveness of this plan. The contrast between our fragile, clay-like (from the earth) bodies and the immeasurable brightness of Christ is something that should be obvious so that everyone will know the power must be coming from God, because it certainly isn’t coming from us.
You can see how the power of this message is made more effective by the commonness of our humanity. In fact, the power of God in our lives is in direct proportion to our weakness. The more honest we are with our humanity, the more the power of God can be seen and recognized in us. Conversely, the more we try and show ourselves as adequate and spiritual, the less anyone will ever know about the power of God. This is the tragedy of “playing church.” Everybody is hiding the power of God behind a false spirituality.
This is also why the new covenant is so freeing. In it, the greatest power is in concert with our greatest need. No need to hide anything.
Understanding this sets us free to live our lives with a kind of forthright boldness, counting on the Lord to show up, because He always does. The only thing that can stop Him is our manipulation of what he wants to produce in us through our genuine transparency.
By John Fischer
Used by Permission
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