TREASURE IN CLAY JARS
Exodus 34: 29 – 35
2 Corinthians 3: 12 – 18, 4: 3 – 7
Luke 9: 28 – 36.
They say that to err is human but to really foul things up you need a computer.
There’s some truth in that because we give to computers great power, forgetting that computers are completely dependent on what we input in the first place. In other words, we don’t know – in fact can’t know – everything.
We are not perfect. That is very much worth knowing when we raise children.
Peter made the age-old mistake. He had status, so he reckoned he could express his opinion. Today we mistake intelligence for wisdom all the time. It is one of the characteristics of modernity. That’s why it’s worth taking note of the comment that “God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we ought to listen twice as much as we speak.”
Peter, James and John (Jesus’ inner circle) demonstrate this beautifully. Faced with the appearance of two Old Testament figures who are meant to be dead, and with Jesus lighting up before him; Peter makes a suggestion; and the Scriptures adds, not knowing what he said. (Luke 9: 33c)
Then God the Father speaks audibly and we read, 36When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen. To give him his due, Peter is a quick learner. When you don’t know, keep your mouth shut.
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians he touches on this business of people lighting up in the presence of God. Moses did so, and his face was so bright, he had to wear a veil over it because it blinded the people he was speaking to.
Paul picks up on this and takes a pot shot at the Jews by commenting that their minds were nonetheless hardened against what God had to say, in fact to this day their minds are veiled when they read the Scriptures. Brilliant scholars who simply missed the fact that the Old Testament Scriptures pointed to Jesus. Intelligence mistaken for wisdom again.
And we really do need wisdom in life. We need it for raising our children, we need it for all our relationships; we need it in business, and when we manage change, especially in a church.
And so I ask for your prayers today:
- For Richard and Pippa as they parent Jonathan and Madeline in this demanding age we live in where, generally speaking, minds are blinded towards God and God’s ways and where as a result values, often contrary to God’s, make parenting a complex task.
- I ask it for me, for the Wardens, our Vestry and the Parish Review Working Groups as we begin to deal with the various streams of work generated by the Parish Review process.
Paul tells us it is God who lifts the veil of ignorance.
6For 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.
And he gives us a useful image, an image that helps us not to think too highly of ourselves but to recall that 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.
May God grant us all both wisdom and humility as we realise that we are but clay jars (fearfully and wonderfully made, as David reminds us) but clay nonetheless; and that our true wisdom and worth lie in God when we both contain him and allow his light to illuminate our minds. He is the treasure in us, the wisdom in us.
And that wisdom is available to us. As James says, 5 If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. (James 1: 5)
God bless you all as together we seek the wisdom of God for the days that lie ahead.