I appreciate the irony that I can now count myself among the happy-clappy crowd, even though at that time in my life I probably would rather have died than become one of them. God's mercy and love are so great they are truly unfathomable. He waited patiently, more than twenty years, for me to become humble and broken enough to bow my will to His - and I will be eternally grateful that He did. My life truly began that day in August 2000, when I finally made a decision to turn my will and my life over to His care and let Him be Lord of the rest of my life.
I was reading 2 Corinthians 4 this morning. As I read verses 3-6, I could see that the same "veil" that Paul describes in this ancient letter to the first century church at Corinth covers the spiritual eyes of unbelievers today. That veil was what kept me blind and unable to see the truth for most of my life.
In verse 5 Saint Paul tells us what the stumbling block is that prevents unbelievers from receiving the Light of the Gospel. Just as I did, "the world" sees Christian believers as stupid, arrogant and bigoted because we proclaim that our way is the only way to God, that there is no other true spiritual path. But, as Paul explains, "what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as (their) servants." Yes, we believe that we are priviliged, that we possess knowledge that the rest of the world doesn't know, because God has "shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God..." but having received this knowledge cannot produce arrogance in us. It brings only humility and gratitude because...."we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us." (Verse 7)
We are fragile, imperfect vessels; we have done nothing to earn this privilege; we are no different and no better than anyone else. And God uses "jars of clay" so that it will be obvious that the "surpassing power," and the glory, belongs to Him and not to us. That is the reason for our happy-clappy demeanor - we are continually giving thanks and praising God for the wondrous work He has done in our lives. Our gratitude cannot be contained, and it overflows, causing us to gush and to want to proclaim God's goodness to the world.
We know that have not gained this knowledge because of our own intelligence or wisdom - it can come only through revelation: "For God..has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ," and it is available to every person who will humble her/himself and seek God - and who beholds the face of Jesus. In that face is love everlasting, love without end, love without condition, love beyond anything you have ever known: pure love that fills every void and heals every hurt.
So, if we seem giddy and foolish, it is because we know that we have this treasure in jars of clay; we know that we are undeserving and unworthy - and yet we have been given the greatest treasure of all, "the knowledge of the glory of God," and the love of His Son, Jesus!
In my Bible (ESV), Jeremiah 29 is called "The Letter to the Exiles", and through it God would speak these words to you, "I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out - plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I'll listen. When you come looking for me, you'll find me. I'll make sure you won't be disappointed..." (Verses 11-14 from The Message)
So, join us and behold His face. He's watching you - yes you! - with love and anticipation; waiting for you to turn to Him. And I can say in all truth and sincerity - and from my own personal experience - that you will never, ever, regret it. But, just as a word of warning, if you take my advice you just might that you too have become a life-time member of the happy-clappy faith club!
To read 2 Corinthians 4 in The Message go to: http://www.biblestudytools.com/my-bible/#/left:passage/msg/2-corinthians/4/
Opening photo courtesy of my son, Jeremy Sean Williams, photographer: