Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hey! Where's the Filling?

A few years ago there was a series of commercials for Twinkies® that ended with the character asking, “Hey, where’s the creamy filling?”  The cake part, it seemed, was just the container. What you really wanted was the goop on the inside.  In their opinion, what made their product worth buying was the creamy filling.

Millions of marketing dollars are spent each year on package design. Products may do everything they are supposed to do, but unless they are packaged in a way that entices you to buy it, all their usefulness will remain on the shelf. Apparently people do indeed judge the book by the cover. So does that mean the cover is more important to the sale of the book as the contents?

Most ads in magazines seem to agree. They sell the idea that how you look on the outside is really all that matters. Problem is: a mule in a tux is still a mule.

The Bible describes us as the containers: “earthen vessels” designed to hold inside an understanding of who God really is—like a substance through which others can taste His goodness.

Earthen vessels were not the beautiful, intricately designed china you might use on special occasions to delight and impress your guests. They weren’t the stuff you’d grab in an earthquake or save from a fire.  They were actually just plain old everyday pottery. Sort of the Tupperware® of the ancient world.  Use gave them their value.

Jesus’ first miracle was in a town called Cana in Galilee.  He was at a wedding and the host ran out of wine.  Jesus told the servants to fill the water pots with water.  When that was done He told them to ladle out some of the water and take it to the head waiter.  The head waiter's response (loosely paraphrased) was, “Mighty fine wine.”

Now no one in that story rushed to the pots and exclaimed, “What exquisite vessels!  What superb craftsmanship!  What dazzling designs!  How fortunate Jesus was to find such containers!”  They didn't say anything about the pots.  Their interest lay in what the pots contained.

Same for us. We generally focus more on ourselves as pots rather than on what we contain. “How am I being treated as a pot?  How am I looking as a pot?  How am I feeling as a pot?  How well am I being taken care of as a pot?  Why doesn’t somebody ever polish me?”

Did you know that you can take an old piece of pottery, grind it up into a powder, add water and mix it with more clay and start all over again? Kind of puts the value of the pot in perspective.  That's why the pot itself is always secondary to the greater responsibility of being a container.

Back to the water pots at the wedding feast…during the miracle, they never changed from being water pots.  But as water pots, when Jesus transformed their content, they became vessels through which He could then distribute out the blessing of what they contained–the wine.

God has fashioned our lives to be containers, vessels out of which He wishes to ladle the blessing of what we contain–the substance that magnifies His very reputation as God.

If all you ever get from me is me, you will be short-changed.  But if you get something that shows you the goodness of God, you will have gotten the treasure of all treasures. Not bad from an old pot.

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