I do not like Christian music. I find much of it inane, vapid, and terribly catchy. Oh yeah, and it’s often real creepy (“In the secret, in the quiet place…I want to touch you.”).
So I’ve heard of this band, Jars of Clay, but I couldn’t name a single song of theirs. Fortunately.
But for me, and I’m sure for many others, this band has forever altered our reading of one of the most beautiful passages in 2 Corinthians (4:5-12):
For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.
When I assess the current state of our Church and reflect on this passage, an immense shame wells up inside of me. It appears that we have forgotten how to be vulnerable, how to be clay jars that might very well be crushed, shattered, and broken. Our Church seems more concerned with power – being strong, proving a point – than humility and formation.
The same goes with our clergy, and I say this as self-critique. I am tempted to be more concerned with my own welfare – setting up false boundaries and guarding friendships – than allowing this ministry of Christ to break me open like a cheap earthenware jar.
We need to stop kidding ourselves. I pray that God takes our hearts of stone and replaces them with hearts of flesh. I pray that God takes the perceived strength of our Church and breaks us open, so that we can be given up to death for Jesus’ sake.