The Christian scriptures are full of stories. The stories are about God's interaction with human beings - primarily those human beings of Semitic origin, yet even more specifically, the Abrahamic branch of the Hebrew people.
As one reads the stories, you are struck by the personal nature of the encounters and the passionate responses of the participants. But there is something else that strikes the reader as well - if they have read closely!
These people are all less than perfect.
They are too short, too young, left-handed, women, deceptive, faithless, frightened or unskilled. They are average or below average in beauty, they are unhappily single or unhappily married. Many of them have low self-esteem or simply have been overlooked by the rest of society. They are the proverbial "pound dogs" - the dogs nobody else wanted, and thus have been assigned to the pound - they are the people from which no one expected much and thus are overlooked and under appreciated. They have both physical flaws and character flaws. In a modern society, they would have been relegated to anonymity in either low-paying, low-expectation blue collar jobs or if an intellectual, assigned to positions in corporations, government or universities where they were useful, but not necessarily mobile.
As Christians, we have enshrined these people as "heroes of the faith" but we have assigned them character qualities and abilities that simply aren't a part of the narrative. We become offended when anyone questions his or her character, ability or veracity. Jacob was a deceiver, a liar. Moses had anger management issues and could be weak-willed. Ehud was left-handed, which the world equated as weakness. Samson was a philanderer and David was an adulterer. Solomon sold his soul to his wives' gods. Isaiah was a priest of low standing and Jeremiah never wanted to be a prophet in the first place. Peter probably couldn't read and Jesus was from Nazareth - what good can come from Nazareth? stated Nathaniel in John 1:46. Paul condoned murder, was a fast-track Pharisee and probably had vision problems. One could even make the argument that he was jealous of Peter. Sounds harsh doesn't it? Don't get upset with me, read the Book!
So what's the point. The point is this: God is in "the broken pot" business.
God takes that which is devoid of worth to the rest of the world and pours out His glory through it. He takes the broken pieces of our lives and makes something beautiful out of it. Although interested in the beautiful (B), famous (F), smart (S), wealthy (W) and industrious (I) - they already have their glory. (Which should be a clue to those BFSWI that they are broken pots too - pride, arrogance, self-sufficiency and control are their flaws, which can be the most insidious!) So God calls those in our world who are obviously - at least by our world's standards - broken, used up, impoverished and over-looked to be fountains of His glory. God loves children (beautiful, shapeable lumps of love!), the poor, the abused, the simple, the hurt and the rejected. He takes these broken pots and remakes them according to His purpose and for His glory.
Now if this is God's business, then certainly it should be the church's business too, shouldn't it? Sadly, we tend to emphasize our priorities instead of His. We focus on the beauty of our buildings and our own comfort in worship. It has been said that Sunday morning at 11:00 is the most segregated hour in America. Why? Because our churches reflect our desires rather than God's desire. Our churches are not only segregated racially and geographically; but they are also segregated economically and theologically. There are churches for every race and ethnicity; there are churches for intellectuals and churches for the blue-collar worker; there are churches for older, tradition-oriented and "mature" adults and churches for "emerging" young adults.
But what about the church that God wants?
My good friend, the Rev. Jo Regan is now pastor of a Baptist Church at Burton-on-Trent in Staffordshire, UK. She is a she. The world doesn't expect her to powerfully preach the gospel or even to successfully (whatever that means!) lead this church to health and growth. But God does. My friend Jo realizes that it is all about God, and because of that, God will do great things in Burton-on-Trent. If only our churches in America could more fully understand that truth. Jo understands that the church is in the business of not only mending broken pots, but seeing the glory of God pour forth from them!
This Sunday, God has led me to a church where I will preach in view of a call to become part-time pastor. It is a small church, a very small church. It is a church that is broken, yet holding as much love as it possibly can. In the last few months, I have been on a roller coaster ride - suffering along with the travails of my family, turning down the call to a beautiful, large church in Oregon and preparing my oldest daughter for college. I am overwhelmed; Yet as I pray and seek God's wisdom and will concerning this weekend, I am overwhelmed by peace. There is no large salary, no manse and really no budget - there are only broken pots. But ironically, God does His best work with broken pots.
May God the Father richly bless each of you this week as you ask Him to mend your own "broken pot" and seek to become a fountain of His love.