Saturday, February 04, 2006

Treasure in Clay Jars

Tomorrow begins a new "season" at West-Ark. From tomorrow until the end of April our congregation will be focusing on 2 Corinthians 4. I do not remember another time when I focused so intensely on a single text. I usually preach from an entire gospel, epistle, or book. Although I am sure there will be moments when I will bring other texts into the sermon or study, 2 Corinthians 4 will be the base.

This text presents the image of priceless treasure being kept in ordinary and fragile clay jars. The gospel in this image is the mercy of God. We are privileged that God has the mercy to entrust us with such a noble and joyful ministry. Despite the difficulties we face we have the encouragement of God and we do not lose heart.

I have been encouraged by this image over the past week and more. As a leader in the church it is tempting to think that the congregation one serves must be made perfect - that is flawless, not mature. Church leadership has too often devolved to problem solving or troubleshooting. The conventional wisdom of church growth has been that if we fix it, polish it, and dress it up then "they" will come. Paul is offering a variant concept of church leadership. He authentically gives an account of his flaws, weaknesses, and trials - not in order to be exhibitionist, but because he knows that his message or content is what counts. He is a vessel for something more wonderful. He contains a power and wisdom that comes from God and not from within himself. I find this encouraging.

The Treasures in Clay Jars blog is here.

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