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Godís Power In Us Ron DeBoer 6/9/2013
“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves” (2 Corinthians 4:7, NLT).
When we were kids, a game we used to play on rainy Saturday afternoons was “if you could have one superpower, what would it be?” We’d pick invisibility or strength or the ability to fly, then justify our choices as we applied them to our lives.
In 2 Corinthians 4:7, Paul alludes to the power of Jesus that is in us. In the previous verse, Paul says, “For God, who said, ‘Let there be light in the darkness,’ has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6, NLT).
So those of us who are believers have a superpower. We have the light of Jesus in our hearts. Unfortunately, as Paul points out, our bodies are like clay jars. I don’t know if you’ve ever held a clay jar in your hand, but it’s not something you bang around carelessly in a bag after you purchase it. You cradle it and handle it with care because it is easily broken.
Isn’t it amazing that God entrusts his light and his Spirit to fragile human beings? In verses 8-10, Paul says, “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies” (NLT).
The first part of this passage sounds like a boxing match. You’re on the ropes, but you don’t fall. You are retreating in the ring, but the blows keep coming. The last sentence is the great truth about the Christian life. We suffer and realize what Jesus must have endured so that, in our lives, we share in his suffering. We suffer so that Jesus may continue to be seen on this earth; even though he has long departed in body, his spirit lives on.
Paul, of course, was preaching to the church of Corinth in 2 Corinthians 4. He was defending his ministry and encouraging early Christians to stay positive, reminding them that God was with them at all times, even when the powers of darkness were all around them. But the enduring words of the Bible apply to us today, too.
As I write this, there is a murder investigation going on near my residence because of the disappearance of a 32-year-old man in my church denomination. Tim Bosma has been missing for six days now after two men arrived at his house to test-drive his pickup truck. Tim accompanied them on the test-drive and hasn’t been seen since. His wife, alone at the house with their baby, called police after Tim didn’t come home. Members of Tim’s congregation and the larger church have been praying hourly for his safe return. A social-media blitz by Christians all over Canada and into the United States has begun, displaying Tim’s picture, a picture of the pickup truck, and a mock-up of the “Ambition” tattoo allegedly displayed on one of the men’s wrists.
Tim’s disappearance has shone God’s light even stronger. Media coverage of the family’s faith and the church’s work has been at the forefront of the story. I don’t know how Tim’s story will end. We’re hoping he is alive and safe somewhere, that his captors have mercy on him and let him go back to his wife and young child, that a realization will sink in that a pickup truck isn’t worth a man’s life. We hope that God surrounds him with an “everything-proof” superpower that will spare his life. We also acknowledge the power of sin and darkness in the world.
It’s difficult to understand what possible good could come out of this tragedy. But rest assured that there will be good. Justice will be served. God didn’t orchestrate this sin, but he will use it to his glory. Paul—who knew a thing or two about persecution, abuse, and victimization—says in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever” (NLT).
It is tremendously difficult for Tim’s family to consider their deep despair as “small.” And it’s probably difficult for you to consider whatever despair you are facing as small. But God assures us that he is in control. He will conquer all evil in his time.
Our denomination uses a catechism that is celebrating its 450th birthday this year. It’s called the Heidelberg Catechism, and it is a document that tries to encapsulate the beliefs of our faith. It is structured in a question-and-answer format. I’d like to share the first question and answer it with you, as it applies to today’s Bible passage and the story I shared:
Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A. That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. . . . Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of Eternal Life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.
How’s that for a superpower? A Spirit that allows you to live forever! Please pray for Tim’s family during this difficult time. A quick Google search will update you on the story to give you context for your prayers.
ďThe second edition is fresh, dynamic and exciting to read. Whether a person is a new believer or a long-time follower, this translation will be a wonderful tool Godís Spirit will use to produce a harvest of kingdom fruit.Ē
Dr. Roger D. Haber Central Baptist Church Middleborough, Massachusetts