Monthly theme: Receptivity.
Reading time: two minutes.
You understand the difference between Genesis clay and Jeremiah clay, don’t you?
Genesis clay is the “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return” kind. Everyone on earth is that kind of clay.
Jeremiah clay is reserved as a designation for the called and redeemed people of God. It’s clay with a purpose. It’s a “Potter at the wheel doing something special” kind of clay.
Jeremiah’s lament was that God’s people were not receptive to the work that the LORD, the Potter, was up to.
I’m from Missouri, and Missouri is known for its red clay and for its mules. Jeremiah told the people that they were both.
The Lord had rescued them from slavery and death, and had positioned them in a small land, (approximately the size of New Jersey), for the whole world to see. God had his hands on them, seeking to pinch and squeeze and mold and shape them and set them on display.
They were to be the handiwork of God, a beautiful piece of artwork, a living testimony to their Creator.
Instead, they acted like mules. “We will continue with our own plans; we will all follow the stubbornness of our own hearts” (Jeremiah 18:12).
Clay is just dirt, unless receptive to the work of the Potter.
God does his work on us through his Word.
Clay is called to be receptive.
Lent is a perfect time to renew our receptivity to the Word of God. There’s a temptation for pastors and church workers in this very busy season to focus on the deadlines and the extra demands to produce, publish, and proclaim more messages from the Word in less time than in any other time of the year.
What’s the topic? What’s the theme for the week? Wednesday sermon? Check! Sunday sermon? Check! Holy Week ready? Check!
If we’re not careful, the Word is studied only for information, forgetting that the Word is for our formation also.
Receptivity is the humble recognition that God has a purpose for me and that every encounter with him in his Word is like the hands of the Potter reaching for his clay.
If we are, as we considered last week, the light of the world, but in us dwells only darkness, then God has work to do to shape and mold and fashion us into the image of his Son, for the sake of the world.
There’s joy in this kind of receptivity. God’s shaping and molding, his discipline, can be difficult, sometimes painful, because it’s the way of the cross.
Like the mules that we are, we often learn the hard way.
But God is good, and patient, and knows best what we need. And so, he lovingly grabs hold, and corrects, rebukes, and trains in righteousness.
And by faith, because we are clay, we welcome his craftsmanship.
May our loving Lord bless your Lenten journey of faith formation.
(Thanks to M. Robert Mulholland and “Shaped by the Word” for his assistance.)
Thanks for reading.