Paying Attention: Shaping Your Work Jeremiah 18: 1-11

We are a nation of self determined people; founded on the hope no one person would be our sovereign king or queen.  The desire to be free of a singular political influence is deeply imbedded in the American psyche.  You can thank me and my baby boomer generation for distorting this core American value with our zealous individuality; that fooled us into thinking we can do whatever irresponsible thing we want.  We passed this disease onto our children who are filling our land with lots of lonely monarchs who think they do not answer to anyone.  I pray God will raise up persons who recapture what it means to live responsibly with others in our free land.

Christians who freely take on their responsibilities as citizens of a free land should be the loudest voice for taking responsibility in God’s kingdom.  We profess a distinct appreciation of the privileges of living freely.  Thus, we are in a better position to value what it means to profess the Living God breathe into us the breath of life and stamped God’s image on us; hoping we might freely chose to become responsible citizens of God’s kingdom.  Appreciating the value of being responsible members of a community, should prevent us from easily embracing this terrible theological idea that can jump up from this text that God can do anything because we’re putty in God’s hand.  It’s negligent to say we’re nothing but clay, and have no more say in cooperating with God’s shaping work in our lives, than a lump of clay has say to the potter.  It’s nonsensical to imply no accountability in our relationship with God since God is omnipotent and we are impotent.

The problem with this understanding of God is we have little opportunity to participate meaningfully in a relationship with our Creator.  We are not heavenly-controlled model airplanes.  We are persons free to soar with the Spirit as we cooperate with the hand of God shapes us.  A fundamental core value in the Kingdom of God is to cooperate and partner with God’s shaping hand in our lives and work.  We do so, when there is wrong, evil, or injustice God empowers us to offer remedy.  We do so when there is grace, beauty and God’s glory God invites us to name it and bless it.  We are not victims to divine circumstances; we God’s fellow laborers.

God invites Jeremiah into the Potter’s house to get his attention regarding how God shapes our work.  Jeremiah is reminded that though God may do whatever God wills, the primary thing God wills is for us to freely to respond to God’s intentions for us.  Thus, God willing endures the possibility of regret and suffering if we do not freely choose to enter into a partnership with God.  Our God is a patient and creative artist wanting us to reflect God’s character.  This passage invites us to pay attention to how we cooperate with God’s shaping hand on our work.

Judah was no longer willing to be formed by the potter.  Her foreign allegiances and idol worship put her at odds with her Maker and outside the will of God.  Yet, these disobedient behaviors were nothing more than symptoms of their unresponsiveness to the shaping hands of God in their lives.  Jeremiah going to the Potter’s House was a way for God to convey God’s broken heart and frustration God felt toward the creatures of God’s own creation who would not respond to the shaping hand of God.

We talk about being out of the will of God in terms of lying to cover tracks, fudging on taxes, or cheating on a spouse.  Those are actions that place us outside the will of God.  Essentially they are symptoms of our failing to pay attention to the ways God is shaping our life.  The easiest way to be in the will of God so to reflect the character of God into the world is to cooperate with the shaping hand of God in your life.  You will have to worry a lot less about drinking, smoking, and chewing, and going with the girls who do.

Jeremiahs trip to the Potter’s House says God doesn’t a take hands off approach after creating.  God is always shaping and remolding, even after we resisted God’s intentions for our lives.  God does not discard us like a useless lump of clay because of our reluctance to respond.  God salvages us by reshaping us until we are ready to cooperate again.

God is a potter; wedging our selfish will and loosening our knots of pride so we can partner again with heaven’s desire for our hearts.  Sometimes that work is easy on us, because we are cooperating with God.  Sometimes it is painful, because God needs to apply pressure to reshape us.

God natural laws in creation are the primary tools for shaping work.  Thus, most people don’t even recognize God’s shaping hand.  God fixed the laws of nature, designed molecular structure, ordered DNA sequencing and set relational boundaries.  So, when we carelessly test Mother Nature, stress of our bodies with needless agents, ignore inward warning systems, and break bonds of trust we will experience repercussions, which are not mere coincidences; they are the potter ways of wedging the clay.

My mother would say; “This hurts me more than it hurts you.”  I thought, “Yeah, right.”  Now, I know it’s true.  No healthy parent gets their kicks in shaping their child by discipline.  We would rather hug you than punish.  Fortunately, we now know a whole range of disciplines between doing nothing and coming down hard.  God also is able to employ many ways to shape us into the person that reflects the character of God.  We hold the key to how God shapes our work; God responds to us.

The closest I’ve come to a Potters House was in an amusement park.  My only potter experience is pressing Silly Putty on the Sunday cartoons to get a print of Charlie Brown.  I speak with little knowledge about pottery ware.  I saw some made by broken pottery.   I know they call these mosaics, but this recycled pottery reminded me of our great hope.  (LOOP) God’s hands are always at work shaping or reshaping you, despite your outward and obvious flaws known by others or your inward and private struggles known only by you.  A genuine broken spirit and a humble heart is the perfect receptacle for God’s amazing grace.  A life touched and healed by the shaping hand of God is ready for service in God’s kingdom.

God generously is working to reshape you into beautiful and useful vessels God intended when you were fashioned in your mother’s womb.  Pay attention these shaping ways so your work in God’s kingdom may more clearly reflect Christ’s kingdom here on earth and in heaven.

Published in: on August 7, 2011 at 7:02 am  Leave a Comment  

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