June 03, 2008

God, the Potter

Jeremiah 18:1-10

“Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand …”
Jeremiah 18:6


Many of the Bible’s images are challenging for us to understand because we live in a culture that is very different from that of the ancient Middle East.

But here’s an image that doesn’t need much translation. Even young children who make finger bowls from clay at home or in an art class can feel the force of this image in their fingertips.

Both young sculptors with their Play-Doh and master sculptors in their studios are intimately involved in their creations. This is hands-on work.

And that tells us something about God. The biblical image of the potter challenges us not to picture God as an aloof or isolated figure.

No, when God deals with a nation, a people group, a community, or a church, he engages in some intimate, hands-on creativity.

Picture God as the One who molds and shapes your community of faith.

Picture God as the One who sometimes chooses to remold and remake that community into something that no one would have guessed possible.

How can we live as good clay? For starters, we can be pliable, flexible, moldable. Brittle clay is almost useless.

We can also live in hope and expectation, full of wonder about what God is forming us to become.

“Have thine own way, Lord”—you are the potter; we are the clay. Help us to be aware of your shaping presence in our lives each day, deeply expectant of your work in us. Amen.

About the author — John D. Witvliet

Dr. John D. Witvliet has served as a professor at Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary for the past 11 years, as well as serving as Director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. He and his wife, Charlotte, have four children.

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