Around 10 times in the bible God calls himself the Potter and us the clay. I think it’s a good illustration. It’s a pretty fitting description of our relationship to God. He originally formed mankind from the dust of the earth, so God is familiar with molding something boring into something incredible. It’s also a great illustration because what power does the clay have in forming itself? It needs someone to form it. I think all Christians can be put into 3 categories in regards to our “clay-ness.” Which one are you? (A) You want God to improve your pottery. (B) You want God to mold you into something important. (C) You want God to do whatever He wants.
(A) You want God to improve your pottery
The one good thing I can say about this person is at least they are talking to God. This person generally knows what they want and they pray to God to help them get it. But does that really qualify as being “clay?” Clay is supposed to be moldable. That’s why a potter works with clay and not rocks. A rock has already been formed, and it can technically be molded again but it will need to be either broken into a trillion little pieces or heated to the point of melting. Both sound really painful if well, rocks had feelings. As a Christian, if you want God to improve you like putting on a fresh coat of shiny paint, then you are in for a rude awakening. God is not in the business rock-polishing, He is in the business claymation. God does such extraordinary things with ordinary clay that no one mistake His handiwork. That’s the point of Him being the Potter and you being the clay. God gets the glory.
(B) You want God to mold you into something important
The positive here is that this statement is a little more open-ended. You want God to take you from what you are and turn you into something new all-together. This person certainly recognizes God’s power to do the impossible. That’s good, but they are still too self-focused. This type of Christian generally has a list (even if it’s a long list) of all the things they are willing to be and do for the kingdom of God. This list often times includes such wonderful callings as being a Pastor or even a Missionary. The problem is, there are unsaid things that this person is not willing to do. They are not willing to suffer in obscurity. They are not willing to be unloved in silence.
As a piece of clay they are willing to be molded into the gigantic, shimmering swimming pool in a high-end community neighborhood, but not as willing to be molded into a ceramic, low-flush toilet in an old widows apartment. Both are relatively the same shape, but one is much bigger, more popular, and viewed as a lot of fun to be around. This Christian fails to put himself in proper perspective to God. What right does the clay have to tell the potter what he should be? The Potter is the one that knows what you would best be used for.
(C) You want God to do whatever He wants
This is where God wants us. We are not asking God to just bless whatever it is we want, but are truly telling him that He is in charge of our lives and He can do whatever he wants to us. I know that seems really scary. God might choose to make you a toilet, ashtray, DVD re-winder, or youth pastor. But before you actually get scared. Ask yourself these 3 questions:
- Does God know everything about me?
- Does God actually, legitimately love me?
- Does God literally know the future?
If you answered yes to those three questions then what do you have to be afraid of? So do I think I’ll never be hurt or have anything bad happen to me if I just trust God? Whoa! I didn’t say that at all. Jesus was mocked, beaten, and crucified. Yet God had a purpose for all of that. To save the world! If God gets glory out of me being a toilet, am I willing to be a toilet? If God gets glory from molding me and shaping me into something that is viewed as unimportant but God says is vital to His plan, then am I willing? We are either for His Glory or for our own.
Eugene Peterson’s commentary (more commonly referred to as the Message Bible) puts Romans 9 this way, “Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn’t talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, “Why did you shape me like this?” Isn’t it obvious that a potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans?” Everything that God molds you into would be important because everything God touches is GOOD. Maybe the worlds definition of important or even your own might be challenged, but there is no better place for clay to be than in the Potter’s hand.