Jars of Clay

clay-jar1I received quite a response from the previous article, “Desperation.” I was hesitant to post it for several reasons: 1) No one feels comfortable displaying weakness, 2) I thought it might be perceived that I was on the cusp of abandoning my faith, 3) It could compromise the image I want to project of the confident, well-adjusted Christian, brimming with faith and a twinkle in his eye…

Of course, I’m not that person, not on any consistent basis. But to some extent, when you’re in the ministry (I consider this blog a ministry and treat it as such), you can only display so much frailty without churning out morose garbage that no one will want to read. Besides, the idea of writing a Christian blog is to encourage, inspire and consistently invoke the higher truths of Scripture in a fresh, readable way. This is what I want to do with this blog. But I don’t ever want to come across as some kind of stuffed shirt. I hope that whatever purity and holiness comes through is balanced out with the reality of my humanness.

One of the responses I received to the “Desperation” post was an e-mail with a lengthy article pasted into it called, “When I Am Weak: Why we must embrace our brokenness and never be good Christians.” It was at once a grim depiction of the affliction of fallen humans and an assurance of hope in Christ.

A pivotal portion of the article presented Christ’s redemption, seen right in the swamp of human brokenness. The truth of it is nothing short of a paradox. We read in Scripture, “we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Co. 4:7). I have often cringed when I read passages such as this, because I imagined that what was meant by Christ’s light shining through us was that we were mostly well-behaved people who were seeing victory over the sin in our lives, that we possessed a supernatural peace and an infectious joy. Not all the time, but certainly more than, say, once a year whether we need it or not. How can Jesus attract the unsaved if His followers go around looking weary most of the time?

Why is salvation by faith? Isn’t that simplistic? What about the blood, the resurrection, God’s grace, repentance? Aren’t these all indispensable ingredients of the transformed heart and life? Yes, but none of it will penetrate the quagmire of human corruption unless I make Jesus my mainstay and trust that he meant it when he said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

All this flies in the face of soaring Scriptures that call for selflessness, obedience and humble service of Christ and others, doesn’t it? I’m quite sure I’ve read somewhere in Scripture that transformation must occur in the lives of believers. Nevertheless, we may not know what it will look like or how it will take place. Repeated failures seem to render futile our enterprise of Christian devotion, but perhaps it is more important for a person’s self-reliance to die than for him to overcome drinking, gambling, fornication, gluttony, or whatever it is. Surely it is better for me to drag myself back to the altar haggard-faced than for me to stride jauntily through life, free from my vices but filled with pride.

Martin Luther, who reminded the world that salvation is by faith, said, “Christ dwells only with sinners. For the sinner and for the sinner alone is His table set.”

About Douglas Abbott

I am a freelance writer by trade, philosopher and comedian by accident of birth. I am an assiduous observer of humanity and endlessly fascinated with people, the common elements that make us human, what motivates people and the fingerprint of God in all of us. I enjoy exploring the universe in my search for meaning, beauty and friendship. My writing is an extension of all these things and something I did for fun long before I ever got paid. My hope is that the reader will find in this portfolio a pleasing and inspiring literary hodgepodge. Good reading!
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