This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.
Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. (Jer. 18:1-6)
If you’ve ever watched a potter working on a potter’s wheel, the one thing the potter does to perfect the piece he’s working on is stretch and pull out the clay knots that cause lumpiness. In other words, he pulls out the pieces that are resistant to him, shaping the piece to his liking. The message God intended to communicate through this illustration from ancient life was not, as some theologians argue, one of divine sovereignty. Yes, God is sovereign and will reveal is authority to us in many ways. A deeper way of looking at this in our multicultural context is the underlying message of grace. In our resistance to the transformation God desires for the church, God is still willing to begin anew with us and reshape us into the church he had in mind from the very beginning. This is something we should not take advantage of by extending our resistance until we are “comfortable” but by rejoicing in the fact that even in our mess-ups we still have the opportunity to look as he intended. As the scripture implies, God the Father is the potter and we are the clay. The tension that is created by the transformation toward a multicultural, multidimensional approach to ministry is God’s way of pulling the imperfections of segregation and fear out of us in order to shape us for the kingdom work ahead.
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