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A Hard but Sweet Truth

July 19th, 2013

You will break them with a rod of iron, you will shatter them like a potter’s vessel.

Psalm 2:9

We want to imagine that in this world in which we live only motives are important, that as long as we mean well then everything should bend our way. Or at least this is our way of thinking from our own perspective as actors. As recipients of others’ actions we feel quite differently. I would not judge a good surgeon on his motives alone. I would want to know if he knows his business, before I let him cut me open and work on me. I would not care to live in a house designed and built by someone with the best of intentions only. I would want to know if he knows how to build a house and make it safe to live in.

This is all common sense, but it also applies in areas of morality. We in this world venture in all sorts of directions on moral decisions, without being able to find our way. We imagine that as long as we mean well, then this is all that matters, but this is the problem. We rarely truly mean well for others, there is always a selfish speck in our decisions. There is something fundamentally wrong with the human heart and we can even take the finest principles and apply them in such a way that we can hardly recognize any truth at all. In retaliation to harshly applied morality, others conjure up the notion that morality itself is the problem, and the best we can have is just good intentions.

Into this confusing mix comes the Messiah – the the passage above is an end-time passage, referring to the final return of Christ – and He clarifies the matter. In our hearts He breaks those human-constructed notions that contradict His. He breaks them like a mighty king (which He is) crashing His scepter down on the pottery that the world constructed. Not all that humans do is evil – much of it is very good – but it is at best a clay jar compared to His work. So there is the promise that He shall shatter these things that people have constructed, and no one shall oppose Him.

The nature of His rule is gentle and kind, not harsh and mean. He leads us like a shepherd, winning our hearts to love Him and to realize His inherent goodness and His good intentions toward us. He wins us to Himself through love. But there is a certain sternness with true love, that does not always give into the desires of the object of its love, if those desires would cause more harm. The day will also come in God’s timing, for His reign to be fully established on earth. Those mere human institutions crafted solely by the “potters” of this world He will destroy, and they shall never rise again. “The world and its desires is passing away, but he who does the will of God remains forever” (1 John 2:17).

In our lives we must learn to trust our Shepherd, and to know that when He closes a door, or when He shatters our plans like a clay vessel, that there is no meanness in His doing so. He does this in love, that we might have our lives built upon Him and Him alone. Where have we built our lives upon the ways of man, and not upon the foundation of Christ? These will all be swept away one day. Only what we have and who we become in Him will remain.

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