Saturday, March 14, 2009
Packaging is a big thing today..we are attracted to well packaged merchandise. Retail uses it to attract us to their product. Therefore it is big business. Everything is packaged! Clothes (labels), cosmetics, food etc etc. We even package ourselves! It's a strange and rather shallow concept really, because we are actually buying the product and usually throw away the packaging. I found a quote on the internet which hi-lighted our obsession with it.
“Urban Decay's Big Fatty Mascara - the packaging is so retro. I love it! I have been using Dior’s waterproof mascara for about a year now and I feel like it’s time for me to try a different brand. I was torn between Urban Decay's and Benefit Bad Gal, but I was sold to UD's packaging.”
Is it me, or do we seem to have got our priorities all wrong?
In Biblical times, packaging was less important. What was inside the container was the important thing. Most things were sold/stored in clay jars: Virtually every archaeological dig in the Middle East has unearthed many pieces of pottery. Pottery was a favourite material for making a wide variety of utensils. It was cheap and mouldable. It was used to make everything from pitchers and oil jars to bowls and pots. Utensils were made for a particular purpose. But all made from clay. Paul refers to these clay pots in 2 Corinthians 4. The phrase ‘Jars of clay’ that he uses is actually "earthenware vessels" and refers to a vessel serving a specific purpose (such as a jug, cup, pan or pot). When used of people it often carries the sense of "implement" or "instrument". So to be God's "vessel" is to be his instrument in carrying out a specific service.
Items of value could be kept in clay jars. They were especially popular for storing liquids because the pottery slowed evaporation and kept the contents cool at the same time. Clay pots are mentioned a lot in the Bible either directly or by inference. At the Wedding at Cana in Galilee where Jesus turned water in to wine, empty clay jars were filled with common or garden water and then Jesus miracle occurred. The water became wine. The jars themselves were not important other than to contain the fabulous wine. But without them the miracle could not have happened. Empty they were useless. Filled they became something amazing. Their existance was vital to contain the miracle.
Every person in this world is made by God and is loved by God. But just like an unfilled jar, our lives can often seem empty. To compensate for this emptiness, people try to fill their “jars” with all kinds of different things. Sometimes it is drugs, drink, TV, shopping, big houses, cars, friends, parties, work, money—and the list goes on. Unfortunately, these things are transient. They fill the longing for a time but the happiness and fulfilment soon evaporate.
Nevertheless, there is something, or rather someone, who can fill us. That someone is Jesus! The solution to our difficulties is not to struggle alone with them but to allow Jesus to take control of our lives. As Christians we accept Jesus as Saviour and Lord. That means that we accept what he did for us on the cross in dying for us and taking our sin on himself, but it also means following him, doing his will and putting him first in our lives. Not all difficulties will be removed but we will have divine strength to deal with problems and difficulties as they occur. We are all called to be witnesses to him and to his death for the world. Paul says,
“We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus amy also be revealed in our body.” (2 Corinthians 4 v 10)
Christians are a reminder to the world of Jesus life and death and of the reason for it. It is for us to point people towards him with our lives and with our behaviour and with our words. We are the human equivalent of vessels made of common, run-of-the-mill clay--fragile and easily broken. And yet God has entrusted the treasure of the gospel to such vessels. Just as Palestinians stored their valuables in common clay pots. Why does God do this? According to Paul, he does it to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. God uses what is fragile and yet serviceable so that there might be no confusion to the origin of the gospel's power. When people see or hear Christ in us, they know that it isn’t because we are just fantastic naturally, but because it is the presence of God within us, working through us. The Greek dynamis is the term from which we derive our English word "dynamite." The gospel is not merely a message that confronts the mind but an explosive power that turns a person's life upside down.
As Jesus spoke to the woman at the well as she filled her clay jars he said: “Everyone who drinks this water, will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13 - 14).
We have this water, but we need to share it with others, we have the hope that is the Gospel. We carry this hope out into the world. Each of us have been made for a specific purpose, like clay jars we are ordinary and weak but we are all unique. We each are called to different purposes but with one thing in common; we are all made to carry something of the highest value, the death and suffering of Christ. God's message of love to mankind. How much more important, fulfilling and meaningful can life get?