Christians should not be surprised when their freedom and safety continuously fading away with the time. The countries once regarded as safe for Christians now no longer safe places for them. Persecution of Christians has been escalated across every part of the world. Stricter forms of legal harassment are defined in many justice systems threatening Christians. Even now, in Islamic countries, Christians are being tortured and put to death. Christ has explicitly told us what to expect as believers in the world, “The time is going to come when people kill you and think they are offering service to God” (John 16:2).
Why the Christianity is hated by the whole world? The simple answer is because it is the truth. The world system is under the dominion of Satan, the father of lie, and he hates Christ and Christians. Satan and his demonic forces are at war with the truth and with the Church of Christ. Paul, in his letters to the Corinthians, talks about his suffering for the cause of the truth of the Gospel. He said, “We have become the scum of the earth” (1 Cor 4:13). We are like the world’s garbage, like the dirt everyone scrapes off their sandals.
The world hates us because their deeds are evil. Christians pose a threat to their deeds. Watch, how the world reacts when you step up and say homosexuality is evil, lying is evil, greed is evil, living together is evil, and so on. As long as you keep your mouth shut, as long as you don’t confront them, they love you. “Everyone who does evil hates the light” (John 3:20). Why? He doesn’t come to the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. Scripture says it is inevitable that believers who truly seek to be faithful will suffer at the hands of those who hate Christ (John 15:18–20).
Christ predicted in John 15:20, “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you”. Think about it: Christ was perfect and without sin. No fault could be found in Him. But they hated Him, falsely accused Him, and finally killed Him. If this happened to an absolutely perfect person, what about us? The world certainly not going to love the imperfect followers of Christ. Knowing all these, Christ gave a mission to His followers, “Now go, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves” (Luke 10:3). And, He entrusted us with a treasure to deliver to the dying world.
❝ Now 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. ❞ – 2 Corinthians 4:7-9
What is this treasure?
It is the new covenant gospel. It is the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. It is the revelation that the eternal God came into the world, died on the cross, rose again, and provides forgiveness of sin and eternal life. The treasure is the truth that God reconciling the sinner to Him through the faith in Jesus Christ, and bringing salvation to those who believe in Him. The treasure is the good news of the Gospel. “The gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:1-6).
This treasure is an announcement that belongs to God, is authored by God, and owned by God. God has made us stewards of this treasure. That is very important, because we do not want to play with that. We are playing with something that not ours. We don’t want to mess with the gospel, we don’t want to tinker with it, we don’t want to improve on it, and we don’t want to change it. We are the waiters and not the Chef. Our task is to deliver the food to the table.
The Jars of Clay
Paul says, “We have this treasure in jars of clay” (2 Cor. 4:7). The word is ostrakinos (Greek ὀστρακίνοις) and it refers to just baked clay. These were very common pots – cheap, breakable, replaceable, and valueless. They were used as containers for valuable things, but they themselves did not have any value. They were also used frequently for the common things of life, like collecting waste and garbage.
We are like those worthless vessels carrying about the divine truth and power of God. I am good for nothing, except for the fact that in me is a priceless treasure. If the truth is not in me, I know nothing about the reality or about God. I write these weblogs not because I have some skills or talent in communication – actually, I am a crappy writer, and a terrible communicator. But, I desire to tell others the truth of the cross, which is foolishness to most people. I am powerless in my own effort, but the power is in the treasure I deliver. Take the scripture away from me, take the Spirit away from me, I am useless, good for nothing.
The world is full of people very clever, intellectual, educated, and skillfully armed with their own abilities, profound speakers to be used by God. But God picks up clay pots in order that His power might be displayed and not ourselves. “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, in order that no man should boat before God” (1 Cor 1:27). God chose a poor peasant girl in an insignificant remote village, instead of a daughter of a wealthy temple high priest to be born in to this world. God did not call the scholars and distinguished philosophers in Egypt, Greece, or Alexandria to write the New Testament truths. Neither had He chosen great orators in Rome nor religious geniuses in Jerusalem to set the foundation of His Church. But, He walked to the shore of Galilee and found a bunch of uneducated fishermen who changed the world upside down (Acts 17:6).
Losing Heart in the ministry
God has entrusted this great ministry of reconciliation to the believers because of His mercy (2 Cor 4:1). However there are many reasons for us to discourage, to lose heart in this endeavour. First of all, many people are offended by the straight talk of the scripture. Many things that the Bible say are not popular. When errors and lies are exposed, people will get hurt and offended. Sometimes, truth is branded as ‘hate speech’. They don’t see the truth. People are reluctant to admit that they are sinners. They cannot come to grips with a Savior who dies for our sins, and they mock the virgin birth and the resurrection. The existence of the heaven and the hell is just a myth in an ancient time. The god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ (2 Cor. 4:4).
The world is remarkably intolerant to the preaching of Christ, preaching of the truth. It is challenging to declare in public “Jesus is the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except by Him (John 14:6). There is no other name given by whom we must be saved (Acts 4:12).” The sad reality today is, many will not endure sound doctrine, but follow their own desires, and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear (2 Tim 4:3). The truth itself is offensive, too narrow, and too exclusive. Jesus Himself told to the Jewish leaders of that day, “Because I tell you the truth, you do not believe” (John 8:45). So, what are the options? Tell untruth and get people to believe us? Tell what people want to hear and become popular and accepted by our friends and families? Shape our message to gain the popularity?
Our confidence in God
God has made us competent to be ministers of the new covenant -the gospel of Jesus Christ, the promise of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (2 Cor 3:5,6). Our hope and confidence in God is through Christ (V4). Since we have such a great hope we preach the Gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone with great boldness (v12). The Greek word parrésia (παρρησία) means fearless confidence, cheerful courage, unhesitant speech regardless of reaction. This boldness is not based on the strength of our flesh which only produces arrogance and condescension. Rather, it is ignited by the Holy Spirit power which produces humility and love.
We are baked dirt -that’s what we are. We have nothing to offer of beauty, fame, power, wisdom in ourselves. The power of the gospel is not a product of human genius, technique or ability. It is the treasure itself in us. My weakness is not disadvantageous to gospel cause, but advantageous. When I am week, insulted, mocked, ignored, persecuted, then I am strong (2 Cor 12:10).
So, we do not lose heart; we do not sort for secret and shameful ways, we do not use deception nor do we distort the word of God (2 Cor 4:1,2). We do not shape or water down the truth of the Gospel. We will guard the treasure that has been entrusted to us (2 Tim 1:14). We will contend for the truth (Jude 1:3). We will be loyal to the truth of the Gospel in the sight of God by setting forth the truth plainly. If the gospel truth is hidden, it is hidden to those who are perishing (2 Cor 4:2,3). Our task is to proclaim the gospel truth even if some cannot see its light. The truth of the gospel itself displays the glory of Christ.
2 Corinthians 3 and 4