Keep the Inside In and Outside Out

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. (2 Corinthians 4:7-11 NLT)

When I was young, I used to be really intrigued by the concept of “inside out”. When I came out of my room before elementary school, my mom would occasionally to point out that my shirt was inside out. As I set out to remedy the situation, I dwelled on the question, if “inside-out” was wrong, was “outside-in” better? When I figured out that inside-in (or the outside-out) was the goal, my mind was pretty near blown.

I had a lot of time on my hands.

I think about that when I think of Paul’s metaphor here. Paul says—quite beautifully—that no matter what happens on the outside, our inside is safe and protected. Though our exterior—our actions, our emotions, our bodies, our circumstances—is actually fragile and occasionally even broken, something else is going on inside. Inside is a treasure that cannot be touched.

That’s Good News.

This treasure—the love God as represented by Jesus Christ—was effected and cemented at the Cross, and nothing that happens to these jars we have can change the love that was expressed there. Though we are called to bring what is inside out to the world, nothing that the world—or life—tries to do to the treasure inside is ultimately effective.

Our “treasure” is safe.

One of the great deceptions of life is that our “treasure” can somehow be diminished or harmed by the outside circumstances of life: by the mistakes we make, by the subtle, damning whispering voices in our souls that accuse and intimidate.

But for those of us who have allowed God’s love to seize us, that can’t happen.

Our inside stays in, and the outside stays out.

Jesus is just that strong. 

Do we need to pay attention to that work? Yes.

Do we need to make room in our lives for Jesus’ voice of love and acceptance? Yes.

Do we need to quiet ourselves in order to see that treasure inside us? Yes.

But the treasure remains. Yes we are jars, yes we are broken and fragile.

But the treasure isn’t. It is solid…

beautiful…

golden.

And it’s inside you.

  • What voice do you need to hear this week?
  • Are you focusing more on your “jar”, or on the treasure that rests inside it?

Grace, peace, and mercy to you…

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