Last Koinonia Sunday, I wrote about how as we study the first six chapters of 2 Corinthians, we will see that Paul helps the Corinthian church to distinguish between authentic Christianity, and the pale imitation that many of them had mistaken for the real thing.
That Christianity is more than conversion. And Paul make clear in his description of the Christian life beyond conversion, when he left for us 2 Cor 4: 7 “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves.”
One may wonder how could Paul describe his audience as vessels. What does he mean? Vessels are essentially containers made to hold something. It is like vessels in our home (pots, cups and bowls) made to contain something, and when nothing is in them, they are, of course, left at one corner of the house, as empty vessels. What a significance of this verse of Scripture! It reminds us that we human beings were intended to contain something. We are designed to be pots, capable of holding something.
What then are we made to contain? The answer of the Bible is that we are made to contain God! Our humanity is designed to correspond to God. In essence, we will be right and accurate to describe our lives without God as “empty lives”. In today’s world, we see out there, men and women, who display an outward shell of busyness and interest, but within there is nothing but an echoing emptiness. How often, we remind ourselves that we must make our lives count each day. But how often, we start and end the day, with both hands empty and nothing to present or offer to God.
Comforting thought from 2 Cor 4:7, is that we are not just vessels, but we are earthen vessels – made from clay. Thankfully, the Christian is more than an empty vessel. He has something within or better. He has a treasure in the earthen vessel. And it is not just a treasure, but a transcendent power! That is humanity as God intended it to be. The vessel is not much in itself, but it holds an inestimable treasure, beyond price, greater than any other power known to men.
Are we willing to allow God to enable Him to work in us, His earthen vessels? That is the second truth found in this verse of 2 Cor 4:7. God wants us the ordinary people, so that we may be bearers of the most remarkable riches and power ever known. And that the treasure and power are not from us, but from God. His intention is that His great power, wisdom and love should become visible in every ordinary and otherwise inconsequential people.
1 Cor 1:27-29 “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”
Let’s not wait for tomorrow! Start today. Ask God to use us as His earthen vessels daily, to display His surpassing greatness and power. And be the man and woman, God wants you to be.
Elder Andrew Lim