“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you” (2 Corinthians 4:7-12, ESV).
The “treasure in jars of clay” verse (2 Corinthians 4:7) is probably in the top three of my favorite Bible verses!
The treasure spoken of refers to “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (vs 6). And God gives this knowledge of Himself–this treasure, revealed in Christ Jesus, to human beings to do with as they please–accept it or reject it.
In these verses the Apostle Paul describes what life is like for those who possess this treasure. He describes what we might call The Normal Christian life–affliction, bewilderment, persecution, adversity AND eternal life.
In fact, we could assume that if God’s answer to the human condition was a crucified and resurrected Messiah, then in addition to the promised eternal life to come that affliction, bewilderment, persecution, and adversity are all aspects of the present Christian life.
Fortunately, the apostle also says that while we carry the death of Jesus in our lives, we also carry the resurrection life of Jesus.
The mortal bears the immortal. The temporal consummates the eternal.
So, isn’t it just like our God to keep His greatest treasure in the most unlikely place, the human heart, for anyone to have access to?
But, God’s grace is poured into our lives in a two-fold fashion: suffering and blessing, insignificance and significance, mortality and immortality.
We tend to view this like a good news/bad news presentation. The good news is you are a Christian and God will bless you. The bad news is you are a Christian and God will afflict you.
And then some Christians want to live only on one side of that dichotomy.
But the Apostle Paul didn’t see it as dichotomous–as good news vs. bad news. To Paul, it was a package deal; it was all the same gospel: You carry around in your body the death of Jesus so that the future eternal life of Jesus may be revealed in your present Christian life.
For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. (I Corinthians 15:53, ESV)