TITLE: VESSELS OF CHOICE
By Cyndi Brandon
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VESSELS OF CHOICE
The light of the gospel is a treasure of infinite worth. Yet God, in His great wisdom, chose frail, human vessels to carry this treasure to the whole world. Shopkeeper thought that there was no real treasure since Gentleman chose a damaged, incomplete vessel. That is the worldly point of view, it doesn’t make sense to them for God to choose us to hold His great treasures. However, we know that “Instead, God deliberately chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose those who are powerless to shame those who are powerful.” 1 Corinthians 1:27
So, God, with the wisdom only He has, chose us to be containers for this glorious gospel light. Not to be locked up and buried on some obscure, remote island. But, to be shared with every living soul we come into contact with.
2 Corinthians 4:1-7
1 Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up. 2 We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this. 3 If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. 4 Satan, the god of this evil world, has blinded the minds of those who don't believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don't understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. 5 You see, we don't go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Christ Jesus is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 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. 7 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.
This ‘new way’ that Paul is referring to is a contrast to the old covenant. The old system of the Mosaic law versus the covenant of grace. In the previous chapter of 2 Corinthians, Paul contrasted the old way, which brings condemnation, to the new way, which makes us right with God. The Mosaic law was a type of schoolmaster, it taught us what sin is, taught us right from wrong. The law also reminded people of their sins, always calling attention to them. Under the covenant of grace, we are freed from our sins and we are able to live guilt free.*
Sometimes we just don’t understand why those we are witnessing to can’t get it. Why can they not see that they need a Savior? Verse 4 tells us why. Satan has put a veil over the minds of the lost. They will never get ‘it’ until they believe the gospel.
When they finally do see the light, it is like in the beginning when God first said, “Let there be light.” Imagine the full brightness of the sun bursting forth on an earth covered with darkness. How bright that light must have been! That is how it is when we are saved. His light explodes in our souls and chases away the darkness, the veil that had His beautiful light hidden from us.
In the book of John we are told that Jesus is the light. John 1:4-5,8. That is why He told us that we are the light of the world. The same light that was seen in Jesus Christ is now in us. We are only the light of the world because He lives in us. Paul said that we are ‘children of the light’ in 1 Thessalonians. Paul further explains why we are so uncomfortable in this world and the world is so uncomfortable with us. 1 Thessalonians 5:5 For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night. We have been called aliens, strangers, pilgrims, etc. in this world because as the old hymn says ‘This world is not my home, I just passing through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.‘
God chose ‘fragile clay jars’ to hold this wonderful and priceless treasure so that when people do see the light shining in us, they will glorify God. They realize that it is not our strength or our light, but someone greater that is shining through us.
1 Corinthians 1:21-29
21 Since god in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. 22 It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the “Greeks, who seek human wisdom. 23 So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense. 24 But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength. 26 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. 27 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful 28 God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. 29 As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.
This is one of my favorite passages of scripture. In the introductory story, Shopkeeper was dumbfounded at the choice of vessels Gentleman made to carry his great treasure. The world, also, is dumbfounded at the choice God makes in us as someone to carry his great gospel. As we read this passage, we see that God makes this choice on purpose. He does not cover His eyes with one hand, reach down with the other and snatch someone up randomly out of the crowd. God’s plan for man has been made with such a wisdom that the world has never known, it seems foolish to the world because it is beyond this world. So, you see, it is one of my favorites because it reminds me of just how qualified I am to be a chosen vessel.
Verse 26 calls us to remember. Do you remember who you were before you believed? Our lives, from the moment of birth, shape how we view the world around us, how we feel about our selves, and our perception of God. Every event in our lives, every decision that we make, shape us into who we are becoming. Everyone starts out powerless, frail, and, in the world’s eyes, as nothing. Only God sees our potential. He planned us out and formed us. He choreographed each day, each minute of our short lives. When we accept Jesus into our hearts, the Holy Spirit begins a work in us that is supernatural.
You may have come from a broken home, or been a victim of child abuse of some kind. Maybe you grew up in extreme poverty or with various physical or mental handicaps. If so, you are qualified. You may be one of the lucky ones who grew up in a Christian home and learned about the love of Jesus at an early age. If so, you are qualified. Maybe you were an abuser of people, of drugs, etc. If so, you are qualified.
Choosing the weak and unlikely to do miraculous things is not a new thing with God. He has been doing it for millennia. For example, Judges 7-8, God gave Gideon an army of only 300 men to defeat the Midianites. This account says that the camels of the Midianite army alone were as the grains of sand on the seashore, too many to count. Again in 1 Samuel 17, God chose young David, a shepherd boy to defeat the giant, Goliath. When everyone else was afraid, David stepped forth with a slingshot, a stone, and a faith in his God that was larger than his foe. The ultimate story is, of course, found in Matthew and Luke. The story of the lowly birth of the Savior. Who would have thought that a tiny babe, born in a barn could wash away the sins of the world?! As experience in choosing goes, God has a great deal and to think he chose you! Brothers and Sisters, He knew what He was getting into when He picked you.
We all are chosen because of the chips and scratches and dings that the trials of life have caused. There is nothing that we can boast in because it was His grace that brought us to this point and it is His grace that will take us home to be with Him some day. It’s those cracks and chips that show forth the most light. He shines through our weaknesses to encourage others who are weak. He does the work, we just have to let Him. All the glory and honor for who we are in Him belongs to Him.
Question 1: What, exactly, is this treasure?
Question 2: What is the purpose of the treasure?
Question 3: Why did He choose to work through humans to reach humans?
No human can possibly be complete without Him. People can live in this world and get along in this world without Jesus in their hearts. Many seem to flourish and be very happy. But they will never be complete without Him. Never. Without the fullness that comes from Christ, we are only empty vessels of clay. Easily broken and hollow. With the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, guiding us, we have become vessels of honor. Our lives are significant and meaningful. We do have a purpose because of His grace and the blood He shed for us. Colossians 2:8-10
So let this great treasure that He has poured into you spill out with love onto each and every person you meet.
2 Corinthians 4:7 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.
*For further study of law vs. grace, Romans 8:1-4 and the entire book of Galatians.
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