Sunday, October 30, 2011

He is the Potter, you are the clay?

Are you the clay, completely passive, turned which ever way - whether you choose that path or not?  That is generally how this passage is taught: we're the clay, He is the potter, what we think or want doesn't matter.

And then we wonder why our lives are such a mess, why we're in debt up to our necks, why our marriages are failing, and why we never have money to pay our bills.  Typically we just blame our problems on someone else rather than formulating a budget, or seeking after Jesus.  In the pulpits and seminaries we create doctrines based from reaction rather than the word of God.

So lets take another look at God's perspective of your relationship to Him, where you're the clay and He's the potter.
The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD saying,  "Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will announce My words to you."  Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make.
Then the word of the LORD came to me saying, "Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?" declares the LORD. "Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.  At one moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy it;  {but} if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it. Or at another moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to build up or to plant it;  {but} if it does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it. 
So now then, speak to the men of Judah and against the inhabitants of Jerusalem saying, ‘Thus says the LORD, "Behold, I am fashioning calamity against you and devising a plan against you. Oh turn back, each of you from his evil way, and reform your ways and your deeds."’
But they will say, ‘It’s hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’ (Jeremiah   18:1-13)
Clay Always Yields Correctly
Jeremiah observed that the clay never opposed the potter, rather that in the hands of a master potter, the clay will always be made into that thing which is envisioned, even if the first go-around he spoils it.  But at no time will the clay refuse to cooperate: the potter can always add more water or pressure.

In response to this observation, God stated "Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as the potter does?"  Although the rhetorical answer is yes, this is where most people leave the rails and get confused about the prescribed analogy.  God could mold us into anything He desired - "behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel," but the truth of the matter is that He's not going too.  In most cases, we don't see the implied "but" in the analogy between clay and Man.

You Have a Choice
There is a vast difference between non-resistant, always yielding clay and you.  God revealed this truth when He said "Oh turn back, each of you from his evil way, and reform your ways and your deeds."  And Israel echoed the same truth when they said, in their refusal, "it is hopeless!  For we are going to follow our own plans..."  At that exact point Israel agreed with God that they were not perfect analogs of the clay in the potters hand.  In essence God said that He has the power to fashion them into what ever He wished, but instead He would fashion them in response to their actions in His hand.  In effect, the clay has a mind of it's own, a free will and God responds to our choices.  If that makes you bristle, then read the following again:
if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it. Or at another moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to build up or to plant it; if it does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it. 
Those are clear and indisputable truths regarding how God responds to man's actions.

When does the clay say "you're making me into a cup when I wanted to be a pitcher?"  It doesn't, it simply accepts the fashion provided by the maker.  Man, on the other hand, having a free will may say 'I don't want to be a cup - I will not follow your fashion, but instead I will make myself a different vessel, according to my own will and desire.'

Consider again, "if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it," and " if it does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it."  In both cases, the object of God's work (man) chooses a path they will take, which is most unlike the clay that has no say in the matter.  And based upon the path chosen, God provides a fashion divergent from His original plans when he changes His mind regarding the good or the calamity He initially chose - based upon the response man provides.

Useful vs. Non-useful
The point of the story is two fold.  First, the only time one is molded into a useful shape by God is when one behaves like clay and choose to yield to His desires.  In the process of God making us into the image of Christ, there is a two way communication.  God leads in one direction and we yield and follow.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go;  I will counsel you with My eye upon you.  (Psalm 32:8)
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. (Matthew 16:24)
Secondly, one is not molded into a useful shape by God when one refuses to yield to His leadership.  When we refuse to yield and follow our desires instead of His, then we reap the evils of that which we have sown.
A man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy. (Proverbs 29:1)
So, the only time you're an actual representation of the clay being made into something useful is when you yield to His will, by taking up your cross and following Him.
So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word,then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. (John 8:31-32)
Let me ask this question: if you continue in His word, will you be a disciple of Him, will you know the truth and will that truth make you free?  Assuming the answer is yes, then what made you free?  Grace made you free, God made you free.  On the other hand, if you do not continue in His word, are then His disciple?  Will  you know the truth and will it make you free?  The answer is no: you are not His disciple, you will believe a lie and the lie will put you into bondage.

It's about how you choose to respond
Therefore, the question you must answer is this: do you really have no will in your relationship with God?  Apparently you do, otherwise God would not have said, "Oh turn back, each of you from his evil way, and reform your ways and your deeds."  Look at your life, and your circumstances and your relationship with God.  What do these things reflect?  Are they testimony of a refusal to participate with God, or a testimony of your cooperation with God?  Please understand that I'm not advocating the health and wealth doctrine, for we are to "consider it all joy, my brethren, when {we} encounter various trials,  knowing that the testing of {our} faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."  But there are indicators of our choices all around us.  Do you see the fruit of the Spirit or the corruption of the flesh?

Take some time and determine if you're following Jesus and refusing to be "conformed to this world"  Determine this: are you are instead being "transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect?"

Allow God to make you into a useful vessel by cooperating with Him.

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