Human life is a paradox. The human condition is, Biblically and daily, filled with a constant state of brokenness. Paul recounted that he did the things he didn't want to do and failed to do the things he should do. David asked God to clean his heart becaues he knew that the human heart is, above all else, deceitful. Romans tells us that we have all sinned and fallen short of what God has planned for us. 2 Corinthians 4 says we are broken clay pots ... yet we are treasures that carry in us the light of Christ.
Paul writes these beautiful words because he understood that while we are broken we carry in us the capacity to hold, reveal and express Christ. A Caedmon's Call song says that we are as fallen as angels and as holy as prayers. We live lives that are, in one sense, shattered by the reality of our sin. Yet, because of the power of Jesus, we can live, act and love in ways that become light to the dark world because inside us we have a treasure ... his name is Jesus. That light shines out at unexpected times. It shines when we truly worship and allow God to convict and change us. It shines when we give love to others knowing that because of God our supply of love is endless. It shines when one human gives up life for another. It shines when we pray for a friend or someone we might not even know. It shines when we forgive others. And it shines, in a way that heals us, when we kneel and tell God the truth about ourselves, trusting that he will change that truth to something better.
In Luke 18:9-14 we find the familiar story of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. The Tax Collector kneels at the altar expressing the reality that he is broken and that he must rely on God's love, mercy and forgiveness to restore him to something of worth. It is a great story and it is the story of every single one of us. Go look in the mirror. Tell yourself and God the truth, however ugly that truth really is. Ask for God's mercy and then ask for one more thing. Ask for His grace. It is available in unending measure. In fact, that spring of living water was released on every human at the Cross ... already working and already able to forgive all the sins before and after. The story in Luke 18 tells us that two men went to the altar that day. One gave God his resume' of human goodness (the Pharisee) ... he went home the same way he came ... broken, vile and still heaping refuse on the garbage pile of his life. The other, the Tax Collector, went away justified (forgiven) because he saw himself honestly, confessed his brokenness and asked for and received God's forgiving grace.
We are truly treasures in clay jars, broken so that when God's light is placed inside it shines through the cracks and lights up the world around us. Leonard Cohen (quoted recently by both John Riley and me from the song 'Anthem') was right. "ring the bells you can ring, forget your perfect offering, everything is cracked, that's how the light gets in." Randy