Authentic Faith: Cracked Pots

James 3:13-18 ESV Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14) But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15) This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16) For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17) But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18) And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Centuries ago, a Water Bearer had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole, which he carried across his neck.

One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years, this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots of water to his house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, for which it was made and often spoke about his perfection. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After 2 years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. "I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes my water to leak out all the way back to your house. Why do you keep me around?"

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, we would not have such beauty."

The Greeks tended to see knowledge and wisdom as a concept that is more brainy and theoretical. It is a wisdom that tends to be proud and boastful. But the Hebrew understanding of wisdom is of practical wisdom.

We see the wisdom of the Greeks in pride of the so called perfect pot. But is instead, the broken pot who humbly speaks to the water bearer only to discover, how much more has been added to the world because of its’ brokenness. To be wise is an activity which leads us to brokenness and to be more like Jesus Christ.

In the Old Testament book of Proverbs, we are encouraged to seek after wisdom (Pr 3:13-18). In the New Testament we are encouraged to walk with wisdom (Ephesians 5:15-17). But in James, we are told to show wisdom.

It isn’t hard to find the earthly wisdom (14,16). That is on display regularly in the media. The qualities which it encourages include power, position, privilege and prestige. It was this type of wisdom that prompted Satan to first rebel against God. It is this kind of wisdom that inspired men to try to build a tower up to heaven. And it was this kind of wisdom that exists even in the church when followers and disciples argue over who would be greatest in God’s kingdom.

But that isn’t the wisdom from above. So, I think I need to confess something. Sometimes I have hard time praying. Really. And the last few months may have been the most difficult time for me. It was hard to admit that but I know that right now, I need to be humbled, because Crossroads is not about me, it is about God getting the attention through a church. So I’ve gone to praying written prayers, prayers that godly men and women have written down.

Why do I say this? Because it is one of the practices of followers of Jesus to confess. Sometimes, in silence and confidence and other times openly. But it is also needs to be clear: MEEKNESS is NOT synonymous with WEAKNESS. May I ask you this: Is it easier to retaliate or control your anger? Is it easier to yell or be silent?

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

Jesus told us “…each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush…out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:44-45 ESV)

This week I ran across an interview on YouTube regarding Mother Teresa. At the same time, I found a video entitled “Hell’s Angel” by Christopher Hitchens. As I think about the two, and contrast them, I can’t help but consider wisdom. The words of Hitchens were arrogant and cocky and left me bitter. The words of Mother Teresa, those stopped me in my tracks. They were thoughtful, inspired and humble.

"The Fruit of prayer is deeper faith,
Fruit of faith is love,
Fruit of love is service,
Fruit of service is peace.
We give our hands to serve and our hearts to love.
That is the beginning of holiness."

In his first letter to the church at Corinth, Paul said, “Christ lives only by the power of God, and similarly believers have no wisdom of their own, but are wise only as they become [crack pots] fools and look to Christ alone for their power and wisdom. God calls fools to himself, and in so doing he confounds the wise.” (1 Cor. 1:21-25)

Authentic faith and the wisdom from above is found in cracked pots. And it is the cracked pots of the world God desires to use because he knows we cannot hold onto his grace and gifts – they come out of us. We understand perfect to be “without flaw” when perfection in God’s eyes is to be “with cracks.”

Here at the table, you are invited to be cracked; to own up to your need for God, a relationship with Jesus Christ and be filled that you might spill out into the world.


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