My new fall blogging series kicks off this week with a review of a Toledo UBF message given in August 2013.
The original document can be downloaded here:
Treasure in Jars of Clay
The first noticeable characteristic of this message is that it is in the standard ubf-style format called the “Look at verse” format. The message content is chopped up by seven “look at verse” statements. This makes it difficult for listeners of the message to comprehend the message because the mind is not allowed to formulate thoughts or to connect the points. The listeners of a “look at verse” style message generally hear the final thought or cling to something that caught their interest along the way. I find it rather difficult to review a “look at verse” style message because the message seems to fly off the page randomnly. This kind of message always lacks a cohesiveness of thought that feels like a rabbit hopping through tall grass.
TITLE AND SCRIPTURE:
“Treasure in Jars of Clay”
2 Corinthians 4:1-18
Odd movie reference. The message begins with an odd reference to the movie “National Treasure”. It is mentioned that the character in the movie “had to steal the Declaration to find the map.” The character’s justifcation for this theft is then turned into the main point of this message, teaching us what God does with treasure: “He places it in jars of clay to give to the world.” I find this confusing at best, and highly troubling at worst. Why mention the theft in a movie and tie that to God’s treasure? This doesn’t make any sense and immediately turns me off to this message.
Universal calling. The messenger soon presents us with the standard ubf dilema: Someone out there is tempting us to disobey our mission from God: “…In C.S. Lewis book, “The Screwtape Letters,” we see the various ways in which Satan and his subordinates tempt Christians to not get from point A in their life to point B. We must all watch out for this.” Then the universal calling answer is given as the solution for this dilema: “…So what do we do? We overcome the veil Satan has put over unbelievers minds. God calls us to preach.” Is a calling to preach the only answer? Is the messenger’s dilema real for all of us? What if I don’t preach?
Technically correct. In part II, we find a definition of “God’s treasure”. The definition given by the messenger is that the treasure here is 1) the gospel and 2) the face of Christ and 3) the power of the gospel. I would consider this to be technically correct but articulated in a choppy manner.
Death march. Part III takes us on an unusual turn, probably because of 2 Corinthians 4:8-12. “…in order for this treasure to have impact we have to carry around something else within us. That is the death of Jesus…. To carry in our body the death of Jesus, means to deny ourselves and take up our crosses daily and follow him. But this is not as unusual or difficult as we may think. …As we carry the gospel, we carry the death of Jesus, so that his life may be revealed in others. We all are carrying the death of Jesus, ahd the treasure of the gospel according to our unique gifts and abilities. …Remember the old sayings, “no pain, no gain”, and “no suffering, no crown.” In a sense our suffering of this present time are like paying 1,000 dollars on earth for a ten billion dollar mansion in heaven.”
Keep on keeping on even if you are broken. “In conclusion, we look to the invisible God who gives to us a priceless treasure, salvation from sin and death, and the ministry of carrying this priceless treasure to the world in our jars of clay whether we are strong or a cracked pot.”
God values you..almost. “God values us as jars of clay. However, he does this to show that the all surpassing power of the gospel is from him and not from us.”
Be filled with death but keep smiling. “But how can we accomplish this great task? It is by carrying in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will appear in those we are helping. This does not mean we don’t have joy in this world. There are many joys, a wedding, a newborn baby, a new semester for students – I think. There are the joys of spending time with those we love and who love us. But the greatest joy perhaps, is that when as servants we carry the death of Jesus in our body, the life of Jesus will appear in others.”
Be confident and excited! “We will see a new conscience, the veil lifted, and new light of Christ in others. As I worked on this message, I was able see more of the glorious face of Christ. So I am joyful and excited about this. Are you? What a great treasure we carry to the world! Amen.”
2 Stars – This message has quite a few technically correct statements, but like a dry, dusty, broken pot, the message fails to reveal Jesus or His gospel or move me in a meaningful way. That is highly unfortunate because there is an amazing story to be told about how God uses broken pottery.