2.19.2012

Feet of Clay

So I keep having these great aspirations of writing deep blog posts, and then I don't write anything at all . . . so this one won't be especially deep.

When I was at home in December, Mom was reading something about A.W. Tozer, some part of a more recent biography, and it quoted Tozer's wife: "My first husband loved Jesus; my second husband loved me." Apparently it was really difficult being married to Tozer, on multiple levels. I can't really say, because I haven't read the biography and won't be able to represent anything in it accurately. Anyway, we talked about it for a second--Tozer has written some amazing books, and they speak tremendously to the heart. I reread The Pursuit of God last year, and it kicked my butt (in a good way) so hard. How could this imbalance exist in such a person's life? Mom said, "Feet of clay."

Feet of clay. I was reading in Leviticus a couple of days ago, and it laid out the prescribed sin offerings for the Israelites. It started with the anointed priest himself:
If the anointed priest sins, bringing guilt on the people, he must bring to the LORD a young bull without defect as a sin offering for the sin he has committed. He is to present the bull at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting before the LORD. He is to lay his hand on its head and slaughter it before the LORD. Then the anointed priest shall take some of the bull's blood and carry it into the Tent of Meeting . . . . the rest of the bull he must take outside the camp to a place that is ceremonially clean, where the ashes are thrown, and burn it in a wood fire on the ash heap (Lev. 4:3-12).
Imagine, if you will, that you are a random person living back in the day, and you happen past the Tabernacle. You glance over to see the high priest with his hand on the head of a bull--only his hand--and then you watch as he takes some of its blood further into the Tabernacle, through the courtyard and into the tent itself. Later he walks out, butchers the bull, burns parts of it completely up without eating any, and then drags the hide, filled with the stinky bits, outside the camp, builds a fire, and waits until every part of the animal has been reduced to ashes. What do you know about him from these actions?

Imagine that you are the priest, and you have sinned and you know it, and you know you must make a sacrifice. Everything you do is in the open; you have to go get your bull, take it to the Tabernacle, kill it, offer its blood, burn its body, and then burn the rubbish outside of the camp. Everyone knows the law. Your fellow priests can see you. People loitering outside can see you. What will they say? What will they assume about you? You're normally doing this for other people. You know that whispers will go around the assembly--Did you see the High Priest? He was sacrificing a bull for himself. I saw him talking to that girl the other day. Do you think--?


The transparency God's Law required of priest and people was amazing. Imagine if you had to take an animal and kill it in front of the church every time you sinned. How tempted would you be to bury your sin or try to forget about it?

Transparency is the most difficult thing in the world for me. I've been a follower of Jesus for a long time, and I talk about Him and my relationship with Him, but I desperately don't want people to see my feet of clay. I'd rather they thought I was really spiritual and good and above it all. I want to write things so people will think I'm really insightful and spend lots of time in my Bible and lots of time being "holy." As a missionary and someone in the church I especially want to hide my feet of clay.

Two thoughts from Paul:
For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus' sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us (2 Cor. 4:5-7).
Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast of my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest in me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor. 12:8-10).
I take comfort in the reality that we are all clay pots (and I a cracked pot), comfort that the Lord intends to use us in our weaknesses. I take comfort in that Tozer was often a bad husband even in the middle of his obsession with Christ, and that God still uses him. I'm not with Paul yet in taking pleasure in any of it. I could rewrite the above quotation to reflect my true attitude:
Therefore most desperately I will rather hide my infirmities, from myself and others, that I may seem powerful, confident, good, and assured. Therefore I fear and resent infirmities, reproaches, needs, persecutions, and distresses, even for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am useless, miserable, pathetic, and rejected.
The New Testament talks frequently about being sincere, and one of the words it uses for this is heilikrineis--"sun-judged." When people make pottery, impurities in the clay become obvious in the kiln; in the intense heat they react and cause cracks in the pots. Back in the day, people used to fill small cracks with wax in order to sell them anyway. The wax worked for a short time, but using the pots revealed the brokenness. A smart shopper would pick the pot up and hold it in the sun, as the light would shine through the wax. The English word sincere actually comes from a Latin root meaning "without wax."

I want my life to be sun-judged, without wax. I know there are cracks, and I want to be truthful and open. I won't lie; I'm scared of what that will look like, scared of possible rejection, scared of messing up and looking like an idiot in front of people. Truthfully, I'm scared of making Christians look bad, when what really needs to happen is that my life glorify Jesus, the Forgiver, Redeemer, and Restorer. I have feet of clay, and I want to be real about that.

Praises

  • The Lord has provided our baby church with a building to meet in on Sunday afternoons, and He has provided it for free! What a huge answer to prayer!
  • The Lord has provided a building for our future Iranian community center, and He has provided it for a lower cost than we expected. Another huge answer to prayer. It's in a good area, and I think it will be very attractive to people.
  • I had a great meeting with a lady this week, ended up being able to loan her a New Testament.

Prayer requests

  • Please pray for Christ-honoring openness and transparency in my life.
  • Pray for divine appointments, for people whose hearts are ready.
  • Pray for God-fearers here, that God would reach them as He did Cornelius (Acts 10).
  • Pray for our baby church, that we would grow in grace and wisdom and in number, discipling people.
  • Pray for our team, for wisdom in setting up the church and the community center.
Thank you,
-Jennifer

1 comment:

CB said...

I think being real about your "feet of clay" brings more honor to Jesus than when we just put wax in the cracks. Those are the times when everyone can see that we are fake but we think no one can. Loved the post - it is so true to life and your conclusion is spot on: we need to be honest about where we fall short and we need to be supportive of others who are honest. After all, we are all horrible sinners together. There is no one righteous but God.

Thanks again, for sharing! Love you!