Vessels of Honor – Vessels of Wrath

When I ask myself if I would rather be a servant or a tool, I ponder – then ask myself: but who’s servant? Who’s tool? We all, even though denied in hubris, are somebody’s servant. And if a tool? Instruments are, either willing or unwittingly, a tool in God’s work – even the Evil one. This thought makes me chuckle over my morning coffee. I might even laugh out loud if it were not so serious.

21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:

23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,         Romans 9:21-23(KJV)

The persecuted church teaches us that everyone is either an agent of God’s will, or an instrument of God’s will. Everyone in this world has only two choices: they can choose to do God’s will by co-operating with God, or they can choose to defy God and do his will unknowingly.

“Remember, our God is so great even the persecutors serve him,” said a Chinese pastor. He was referring to persecutor of the Chinese church, Mao Tse Tung, who launched a fierce anti-Christian campaign of the 20th century in the 1960’s. Called the “Cultural Revolution,” he swept away churches, burned Bibles, and imprisoned the pastors.

Yet all he succeeded in doing was pushing the church deep underground, where it became embedded in the family structure and Chinese culture in a way 300 years of evangelism had failed to accomplish. From this fire emerged the world’s largest revival – where the church grew from 1 million in 1950 to over approximately 80 million today. Possibly even more.

“We say,” said the pastor, “that thanks to Mao – who thought he was annihilating the church – we have the greatest revival. He thought he was killing the church, but all the while he was doing pre-evangelism. What Communism thought to destroy, God had the last laugh, He brought to increase. Glory be to God – He always gets his will done in His way.”

This truth has also shown up in India. Since 1997 violence against Christians has increased greatly as a result of the election of Hindu extremists. Yet the effect of the extremism has been to drive thousands of low caste Hindus into the church. The more Hindu extremists persecute Christians, the more moderate Hindus are drawn into the church.

It is a wonderful truth how the persecutor can awaken us. Everyone ends up furthering the will of God! Even those who put obstacles in the way of the church serve God’s purpose, because God merely turns the obstacle into an instrument. This means that we should not despair when we think conditions for the flourishing of our Christian lives or churches are less than perfect.

Think your worst enemy or the one feature of your life, society or church that causes you most despair, then put your mind into gear and think – how might God work His will through this obstacle?

Are you childless? Might God be using such eventuality to give you a special ministry, impossible with the responsibility of family? Are you powerless? Could it be God wants to show his glory and make you open eyes wide in amazement to marvel? We may not get an answer, but it is a thrill to ponder, because we know everyone is either a willing servant or an unwitting tool of the will of God.

He’s too great, and he loves His child and servant too much, for it to be any other way! God takes the obstacle, and makes it the instrument!

Romans 8:29-39 New International Version (NIV)

29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. 

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us,who can be against us?32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns?No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[a]

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Footnotes:

  1. Romans 8:36 Psalm 44:22
  2. Romans 8:38 Or nor heavenly rulers

Blessings, -g.w.

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