Friday, February 01, 2008

Scriptural Though of the Day

As I said here, I've been spending, or at least trying to spend, more time in the Scriptures lately. So from time to time I'll try to post any particular bits that struck a chord with me. Today I was reading from Paul's second letter to the Corinthians, chapter 5. In particular, the following stirred my mind.

2 Corinthians 5:7-12 (ESV):
7But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12So death is at work in us, but life in you.

Initially this struck me for two somewhat superficial reasons. One, because this is the passage from which the popular Christian band Jars of Clay takes their name, and two, verse 9 is used in the bridge of a song we frequently sing during worship services at church, "Trading My Sorrows" (in fact, the previous chapter has two other passages from songs we frequently sing -- popular book!).

However, I began to actually think about the meaning of that. "Jars of clay" are, of course, our fragile human bodies, through which God enacts His great works ("this treasure" being the gift of the knowledge of the glory of Christ Jesus, from preceding verses). The various punishments listed in verse 9 certainly indicate that the life of a Christ-follower is not an easy one; however, there is great peace in the fact that none of it is permanent, or terminal.

Whenever I read verses dealing with the expected persecutions of believers, I feel a twinge of both panic, that, as a believer, I can expect this around any corner, and regret, that I am not yet so fully living out my faith that I am experiencing these things. It is a strange apparent paradox of the Christian faith that we count both persecution, and freedom from it, as blessings from the Almighty. Perhaps our relative peace in this country is a reward for living, for the time being, as a "Christian nation", whatever that may mean; and rewards from God are always meant to be taken with great joy and not regret. On the other hand, there is wisdom in the maxim "If you don't cross paths with the devil every day, you're walking in the wrong direction".



Anonymous Marty said...

Ben, this is exactly the kind of post I was thinking you could write after one of your sojourns with the Scriptures, to profit both yourself and the rest of us. Excellent. Your thoughts on reading this passage (and so many others) echo mine. I feel the same dread whenever I read the parable of the talents.

6:14 PM  

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