Ordinary – 2 Corinthians 4:7-18
For God who said, “light shall shine out of darkness”, is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 2 Cor 4:6
The next verse reveals a core truth about God’s intention to shine the light of his glory into the darkness of this world.
But we have this treasure in earthen (ordinary) vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves.
What treasure is Paul referring to? 1 Corinthians 3:16 provides the answer.
Do you not know you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
God’s plan of revealing Himself to the world involves you and I – the receptacles of his indwelling Spirit. So how does this light within get projected outwardly into the surrounding darkness? What must happen to produce for us this eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison? Paul responds, “It may require some momentary light affliction.” We ask, timidly, “How light?” Paul’s response…..
We are afflicted, perplexed, persecuted and struck down and our outer man is decaying.
And so we ask, “How could affliction possibly produce any light? Where is the victory in this negativity?” Paul’s would ask us to bear with his foolishness a little longer……
Even though we are afflicted in every way, we are not crushed. Even though we are perplexed, we aren’t despairing about it. Even though we are persecuted, we are not forsaken. Even though we are struck down we are not destroyed. And, even though our bodies are deteriorating, our spirits are being renewed every day.
Paul goes on to explain the mysterious perplexity of suffering….
We are always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body, for we are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal bodies.
Paul, knowing this is complicated, continues ….
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
If I am not mistaken Paul just challenged our inalienable right to pursue happiness. How un-American of him! Yet, for light to truly shine from sea to shining sea, it is going to require, a right response on our part, to affliction. While it may not be in keeping with western culture’s personal-success gospel, scripture makes it clear, God is glorified as much (if not more) by endurance through affliction as He is by deliverance from it.
Knowing now that becoming the light of the world involves more than asking Jesus into our hearts, do we remain as attracted to that eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison?
Father, each of us know affliction to some degree. As to the why behind it, we are perplexed and even knocked down. Help us to see, like Paul, that our afflictions are merely light and momentary. Where we have been knocked down and confused by our trials, help us to our feet where we can focus on the eternal things beyond our sight. Help us to shine brightly in the midst of our particular darkness. May our extra ordinary lives provide the surprising context for Your incomparable and compelling glory. Amen.