“Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” 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 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 also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you” (2 Corinthians 4:1-12).
If your neighbor saw your house as a mess, the way it normally is, would that hurt your witness for Christ? If your neighbors find out that your kids are not well behaved does that harm your witness for Christ? What about losing your job? Failing a test?
I’m convinced that our honest, authentic life with Christ is of greater value to the unbeliever or believer alike than the veneer that we paint over ourselves to make ourselves appear more spiritual. Somewhere along the way many of us have picked up the idea that we need to be model “Christians” people who always have an answer for every question in life, always read our bibles, and have homes that could be featured in Better Homes and Gardens. There are few ideas that we have picked up that have caused more harm to real Christian community.
Hear the words that Paul uses to describe his and Timothy’s experience, words like afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, struck down, and death. Paul speaks of sometimes “always carrying around in the body the death of Jesus.” Why? So that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. What? Paul understands that the power of the gospel isn’t found in us and our lives. It’s found in the life and power of Jesus. See, our lives are the canvas that Jesus paints on. Or to use the analogy that Paul uses, we are the dime-a-dozen, earthenware pot that is filled with the treasure of Jesus.
Who knows you well enough that they can see your warts, your imperfections enough that they can see Jesus in you, and you aren’t just a superman? Far to often we think we need act more like “leadership gurus” than authentic Christ followers. This is tragic, because in reality, it is in contrast to our weakness, that the light of Jesus shines. It is the light of Jesus that transforms people’s lives. Parents, kids, singles, gays, lesbians, strippers, drug dealers, pimps, bankers, college students, doctors, and gas station employees are transformed by the very God “who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’” this is the gospel, that this same God who spoke into the darkness has “shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Do we live like that’s true?