But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. ~ 2 Corinthians 4: 7-12
Okay, lets all be honest. Who doesn’t want to follow Jesus without any problems? Who doesn’t want everything to always work out just like we hoped, people always responding and interacting in ways that makes us happy? Small problems are okay, but otherwise, give us smooth sailing, prosperous journeys and happy endings, right?
I’m going to make this really short but to the point. If we honestly desire to walk as our Lord Jesus walked, then we have to understand what is required of us to accomplish this. On the other hand, if you do not want to walk as Jesus walked, then admit it and move on. That is okay! God only asks people to choose this day who they will follow. So it is our choice.
If we want the life of God to be realized in our earthly living, then we also must understand that our death is required. Unless we have a sincere and honest diagnosis from a respectable medical source that excuses us from any and all responsibility for our actions, then Jesus simple words make it clear that unless we refuse and dissent from our own way of doing life and follow him, we cannot be his follower. How simple and direct.
A follower is,
a : one in the service of another
b : one that follows the opinions or teachings of another
c : one that imitates another
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians chapter four, that God has shone in our hearts the light of the knowledge of true Life in the face of Jesus Christ. This light becomes a treasure to us. A treasure is something that represents the highest value. People will give their whole life in search of treasure. A child of God gets the greatest treasure in the universe as they receive by faith this light of God and embrace and follow Jesus. When our treasure is Christ, then all that happens in our earthly life is sustained and governed by God the Father.
Paul writes from experience in 2 Corinthians chapter four that there will be times we are oppressed and circumstances are pressing firmly against us from all sides, but we are not crushed completely. We are at a loss, in a difficult place and at our wits end, but we are not totally without hope and without a solution. There will be times we are hunted down, taken over, but never completely abandoned. There are times we are thrown down, laying prostrate, but not fully destroyed or permanently in ruin.
We are carried about in our earthly life in and out of these circumstances as our portion of sharing in the death of Jesus. In our weaknesses God is able to allow the Life of Christ to be revealed to the world around us completely unhindered.
This is the treasure in jars of clay (our earthly lives), that will demonstrate to a self-absorbed world that the surpassing power of Life belongs to God and not to us. This is why we stop complaining. This is why we stop our pity parties and blame games. This is why we are told to count it all joy as we enter trials, so that the world can know that the way, the truth, and the life is only found in following Jesus. Death to me, means possible life to someone else.
“So death is at work in us, but life in you.“ ~ 2 Corinthians 4:12
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. ~2 Corinthians 4:16-18