I had a different childhood than most growing up. It drove me crazy as a kid but I now that I have children of my own I wouldnt trade my childhood for the world. We were not allowed to watch the Simpsons, Rugrats, King of the Hill, or day time talk shows. If we had friends over and a movie had cuss words, my mom was quick to shut it off, embarrassing me in front of my friends. Our “family vacations” when I was in elementary school consisted of my parents, my siblings, myself, and 20 other high school students in fifteen passenger vans going on mission trips and youth conferences. When we did go on vacation with just our immediate family, often time it was to a pastors’ conference in Grayling, Michigan.
We rarely went to the movies but DON’T WORRY, we were there opening night of Prince of Egypt!
The secular world had NOW cds that contained all of the popular songs of the year. Well, Christian pop culture had WOW worship hits. While I was a fan of JT in Nysnc, my real boy band was The Newsboys. If you aren’t familiar with the Christian cult classic you should definitely google “Breakfast in Hell.”
One of the other A-list Christian artists of my childhood (if there is such a thing) was a band called Jars of Clay.
I’ll be honest I never looked into the name growing up and it wasn’t until college that I realized that their name was taken from a bible verse.
*disclaimer* this passage is lengthy but I encourage you not to skip over it!
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”
2 Corinthians 4:7-12
We are the jars of clay. We are fragile, easily broken, and imperfect; and still God chose us to store his most powerful and precious gift. HIS son.
This would be like me entrusting my case-less iPhone to my 16 month old standing next to a public toilet. (I only compare the son of God to my iPhone because we are not exactly swimming in priceless family heirlooms!)
Jesus, who was present at the creation of the universe, chose to take on lowly human form to save us from an eternity in hell. He came down, not as a king, or overlord; but instead as a baby to a teenage, unwed mother who very well could have been stoned for this pregnancy. If she survived did not have a single means of providing for that baby. Her body housed the creator of the world!
She was a jar of clay.
I remember seeing Robbyn in her NICU isolet for the first time. She was so tiny and so fragile, with oxygen and a feeding tube in her nose. I couldn’t be there often and I trusted those nurses to care for my baby. Those first few weeks, the NICU nurses were more of a mother to her than I was. I felt comfortable leaving her in their care because of the knowledge, compassion, and experience.
God entrusted his son to a 13ish year old girl who had never cared for a child on her own.
God not only entrusted Mary with caring for his son, but he entrusts us with a great gift as well…
*If you are unfamiliar with Christianity, I am not talking about a building but the global body of believers.
When Jesus left the earth, he gave us pretty clear instructions about what the church was supposed to do…
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
If you don’t what God wants you to do with your life, that is a good place to start!
He entrusted the gospel (the good news of Jesus defeating sin and death) to us!
We are the sinful, broken, fragile jars of clay. What have we done with this honor?
…not a thing.
Many of us go to church, fill an empty seat, and go out and live Monday through Saturday as though God doesn’t exist.
I’m not pointing fingers.
It’s easy to do. I have weeks like that. Weeks where the busyness of work, home life, financial stress, and children fill up every corner of my life.
But God didn’t save us to warm a seat in a church 1 hour out of the week. He saved us so we could tell others the Good news.
He allows us the opportunity to play a very important role in the salvation story. No, we can’t save anyone apart from God, but we can be the tool that he uses to save someone from an eternity in Hell.
We tend to think that this is the job of our church pastors.
Isn’t that what they get paid for?
Being raised as a preacher’s daughter, I have heard my share of jokes about how my dad only works 2 hours a week. What a gig!
I can’t tell you how upsetting comments like that are. Granted, I have been exposed to the ins and out of the pastorate since birth, where some might not be familiar with the full job description. Well, let me enlighten you.
My dad is always on call. Always. Literally 24/7. I can’t tell you how many trips or outings were cut short by a death or serious illness of a church member (or nonmember!)
I have seen him leave the house when he was sicker than a dog because someone needed him. I have heard him leave the house at two in the morning to sit with family members in the Emergency Room; just to get up and preach the next morning.
The people he gets called from are not just families who are active in our church, but families that haven’t been to church in years, or people who have never been to our church, knowing him through the community.
Does he get upset about so many people calling on him in their time of need? Absolutely not.
He considers it an honor. He wants to be there for them, even if he hasn’t seen them in years.
I have never heard him complain about running on 2 hours of sleep or about church conflicts that I know must drain him mentally and emotionally. I have never heard him complain about the endless hours of bible study and sermon preparation. I have seen him praying for members in our church more times than I can count.
I know my dad is not the only pastor who sacrifices for his congregation. My father-in-law is a phenomenal pastor as well. His actions and attitude strongly resemble what I have seen in my dad through the years. He like many local pastors, has a full time job in addition to ministering to an entire church. They never complain. They never turn their phones off. Always giving of themselves, their time, and their families.
This leads me to believe that local pastors bear the weight of the ministry in the church.
Do you know why I think they do that?
Because we let them.
It’s easy for us to say, well I have a full time job, and this is what we pay them for anyway.
The great commission did not say, “Pastors, go into all the world…”
It do not say, “If you feel that sharing the gospel is your spiritual gift, then tell others”
God called every. SINGLE. ONE OF. US. To share the gospel. It is not a task intended for the elite in the church, or for those who have a passion for speaking. God calls us all to minister to a lost and hurting world.
Our jars are fragile, but God has stored his most precious gift in us. We need to be there physically and spiritually for other members of our church body and unbelievers alike.
Here are some ways to kickstart this…
- Offer to pray for someone you know who is struggling.
- If you don’t know someone struggling, ask someone how you can be praying for them.
- Bring a meal to someone who just had a surgery, or death in the family, or new baby. (This is one of the areas my church EXCELS at and makes me proud to be a member at Mt. Pisgah.)
- Be intentional about sharing the gospel. Look for a person to share it with. Don’t wait for God to magically present someone to you with flashing lights.
- Don’t leave all of the ministering to the local pastor. Take it upon yourself to love and care for other members of your church family or neighborhood.
- Make sure others know that they can call on you day or night for prayer and support.
- Volunteer to help with a ministry at your church.
- Pray for your church staff. Pastors, teachers, deacons, trustees, music leaders!
Don’t take for granted the amazing treasure God has entrusted you with.