When Paul wrote, "Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us" (2 Corinthians 4:7), the point was clear: real value involves what is contained in the jar, and not the jar itself. It's a powerful image story that must be handled with delicacy, however. It certainly can't mean the earthern vessel is without value. It must imply that the pottery does not have grater worth than the treasure in it.
Go here. In creation God shaped the human in His image, formed from the dust of the earth. It was the peak of creation, the one element of creation in which He downloaded His image. He breathed His breath into Adam and te man became a living soul. Redemptive history is the epoch of His love and care for the human species, and the death of God the Son to claim us as His own. He had loved us with an everylasting love, and has heaped on us His lavish care. Mercy and grace condition His guidance of us. Even more, He has chosen, in the mystery of His ways, to live in us. So, we cannot ever say that the earthen vessel is without value. Certainly he loves us beyond any other part of creation. We are His select children.
All the more, He has give us the light of the Gospel in the glory of Christ. So, if we follow this image story all the way through we must know that the Word of grace, and the power of Christ in us is all the more value than our deteriorating bodies. The pot will be worn, broken, trashed, bruised, marked, and abused. But, the light of His glory will shine in us throughout our use on earth.
In the verse preceding our theme text for the week, Paul wrote, "For God who said, Let light shine out of darkness, has shone inour hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God's slory in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthian 4:6). God means for His light to shine out of darkness, even from the image darkness of a declining human body. And, it is a vivid word picture, this shining. The word translated "shine" in this verse, is the Greek noun "lampo", from the verb "lampein", meaning "to shine". It depictes the shining of light beams, clear flashes of steady light streaming through breaks in the surface. Out of this cracked pot (not, crack pot) shines these beams of light from within. As a side note, it is the root of our word "lamp".
In the instance of the clay jar, the light of the glory of God in the face of Christ is transmitted to th world around us through the broken places in our surface. How we handle the experiences of injury, the blows that leave marks on us, the slashes that open places in our skin, are the places the light beams brightest to the people around us. The treasure then, is the most valued element. And, it beams out of the cracks.
When I was a little Baptist I was a Sunbeam. This was sixty years ago. We sang, "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine". It was sweet and precious, all the more from the innocent naivete of a child's heart. We laughed and smiled and beamed the joy of that message from hearts yet uncomplicated by the perplex issues of life. We really didnt know then that the light would beam from us out of the broken places, the wounds that damage the covering.
We know it now, all of us cynical and jaded people worn down by the road. Yet, in it, is the reality that all our lives the beams of His glory can come from our hard days and trials, and announce to the world His faithfulness to us even when we become damaged goods. No. That's not it. We annouce to the world His faithfulness because we are damaged good.
Peter wrote, "But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear of be disturbed. But honor the Messiah as Lord in your harts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you" (1 Peter 3:14-15).
Notice how our witness and suffering are joined here. Notice more the treasure, the hope that is in us.