We Are Jars of Clay

[Note: this is a much longer message than I normally send or post.] 

The Apostle Paul gave the contentious and conflicted Corinthian church a God-inspired glimpse into his philosophy of ministry. In 2 Corinthians 4:7 he writes, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” Under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, Paul pens verses 4:7 and reminds Christian leaders that we are blessed to serve, but must keep in mind that we are but earthen vessels. John MacArthur comments that clay pots are humble, sturdy, and expendable. The treasure is the glorious good news of Jesus Christ, and Christian leaders must recognize that the power belongs to God. We must humble ourselves.  

In the context of the ministry I hold in trust, I pray that our larger Southern Baptist family will embrace that we are jars of clay – humbling ourselves, praying for one another, encouraging one another to cherish the treasure. The SBC of Virginia is a collection of jars of clay. I am thankful for the favor and blessing we are experiencing in this season. Because of the grace and power of God we are able to serve. We are but jars of clay, and we are breakable and must not think more highly of ourselves than we ought.  

As a larger SBC family, the annual convention will meet in a few weeks. Three entities are facing leadership transitions. So, from one jar of clay to another, here are three of my personal reflections on recent news… 

I give thanks for the Conservative Resurgence. 

The movement known as the Conservative Resurgence in the SBC was the call to action that alerted and mobilized grass-root members of churches who believed in the Bible as God’s Holy Word; and this movement was a God send that ensured seminaries, mission boards, and agencies would seek to honor the teaching of Scripture. I was able to graduate from two Southern Baptist seminaries that had recovered their biblical allegiance. Because of this movement, thousands of Bible believing and preaching churches have been planted and strengthened. Now, over twenty years later, we can and should give thanks for this movement. As beneficiaries of this movement, we must humbly obey the Word in Holy Spirit power. May we truly recommit to be a people of The Book, in The Book, and by the Book. I am a clay jar, I must humbly live according to God’s inerrant Word. 

I pray for those serving as trustees on our behalf. 

Please pray for the brothers and sisters in Christ from our family of churches that serve on trustee boards. Several of our national boards have been called to action recently. Trustees are typically chosen because they are of good reputation, involved in ministry, have a heart for the work, and a willingness to serve. A nomination process is involved. When I was pastoring in my thirties, I was honored to serve two terms as a Southern Seminary trustee. Most meetings were extremely routine, and we were blessed with a godly and capable executive leader. I always knew the trustee role would become very serious work if something happened with, or to him. Trustees have a serious responsibility and are accountable to serve as stewards. So, let’s pray for them. The SBC provides trustee information at http://www.sbc.net/directory/. The SBC of Virginia is blessed to have one of the best boards any organization could hope to have. I am thankful for their support, but I recognize that under God, I am accountable to them. Accountability is a good thing. I am a clay jar, I must remember I am not the treasure. 

I should serve with chivalry, courage, and compassion. 

Men and women are both God’s special creation. I believe the Bible teaches that God designed men and women to be complementary to one another. There is so much lostness and darkness in the world today when it comes to gender, marriage, and family. Because we believe and teach that men are to be spiritual leaders, we should leave no doubt that women are respected, treasured, and honored. Southern Baptists providentially addressed this issue in 2000 before many would have anticipated such cultural blindness, deception, and confusion on gender identity and morality. SBC of Virginia is blessed to have such quality and godly men and women serving the Lord. Because we have taken a clear and counter-cultural stand on men as pastors, we must be clear that women can count on us to serve with chivalry, courage, and compassion. I am a clay jar, I must humbly honor and serve others. 

Praise the Lord for the tens of thousands of faithful pastors and church leaders, the several thousand missionaries and church planters we support, seminary students preparing for ministry, and evangelistic impact being made locally, across our region, and around the nation and world. We have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 


Your brother in Jesus, 

Brian Autry