Monthly theme: Vocation
Reading time: two minutes
There is more autobiographical information about the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians than in any other letter. It’s worthy of our attention.
I’ve often considered that Romans chapter 1 held Paul’s personal statement of mission: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel…” (v. 16).
The “jars of clay” passage may be wisdom for longevity in ministry.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Corinthians 4:7).
Pastors and other church workers get in trouble (in the worst cases, they make the evening news) when pride, self-sufficiency, and ego creep in and take over. Humility is a gift from God, part of His protecting care for those called into ministry.
That’s what impressed me most in my reading of Glenn Packiam’s “Blessed Broken Given” where he compares the life of Christian vocation to the way our Lord often shared great blessing through a meal, particularly through the breaking of bread.
Ministers of the Word who remain constantly aware of who they are, Blessed beyond measure, Broken in human frailty, and Given into a life of service, stay healthy and strong in their vocation.
We’re certainly Blessed. “We have this treasure…” writes the Apostle. Before we were ever granted the privilege of bearing the Good News of Christ’s atoning sacrifice, we were granted the gift of faith to receive the gift of life, forgiveness and salvation.
By the grace of God, it’s ours. We have it. Humility is knowing the hope of the gospel; unearned, undeserved. Blessed. Overwhelmed by the mercy shown by a loving Father.
And we’re just as certainly Broken. We’re made of dust, like jars of clay. If treasure is hidden in inconspicuous places, that’s us. You’d never know to look at us from the outside that we’re heirs of an eternal kingdom.
We’re ordinary. Definitely useful. But consumable, and ultimately expendable. Like the generations who preceded us, our time of service will end, but the kingdom will continue on.
And here’s the mystery: we’re Given. There’s an all-surpassing power at work in the Word of power, a power is absolutely and most-certainly “from God and not from us.” “It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” for all those to whom we are given. God’s power, not mine.
I’m struck also by the beauty of the dynamic interplay of these three, Blessed, Broken, Given. They’re not in any sequential order.
We’re always Blessed, always Broken, always Given.
As I approach the altar for the Lord’s Supper, I come always broken, just as hungry, starving, for the gift of grace, my Savior’s body and blood, as I was the last time.
And every time I depart the altar, I’m filled, blessed. And walking away from the gathering at the altar, adventuring out into a world in need of God’s mercy and grace, I know that I’m sent, given as salt and light.
Blessed. Broken. Given. It’s who we are.
Thanks for reading.