Well, good morning Central. It is so great to be with you. My name is Jeremy and you got your Bible today. I wanna encourage you to get those out. We're going to be in second Corinthians chapter four. So if you've got a physical Bible or Bible app, I encourage you to get that out and get your spot there and love for you to read along with me in just a moment.
[00:00:18] Now, a couple of months ago, something happened in our family. That was kind of a big deal. We were on vacation a month or two ago, and we were in California. Happened to be by one of those outlet shopping centers, you know, where they have certain stores and you don't see all the time and we're in California.
[00:00:33] So we're walking around and we come across a Croc store. You know, the store that sells the shoes and here's the deal I had never tried on Crocs before. I'd always been the guy making fun of people wearing Crocs, but I thought, you know what, we should at least know what we're making fun of. We should at least try them on.
[00:00:50] And we were in California, there was no one to see us. And so our family of seven, we have five kids, goes walking into store and we all just start trying on some Crocs. And something happened. I fell in love with Crocs. I don't know if you've ever tried Crocs. If you actually put one on your feet, they are unbelievable.
[00:01:08] And simultaneously my entire family is having this reaction. As we all realize, these shoes are amazing. We love these shoes. And so it wasn't long before we walk out of there. Each of us wearing our new pairs of Crocs, we had decked the entire family out and that's when I started getting into the Croc
[00:01:26] subculture. Don't know if you knew there was like a Croc subculture. Uh, there are ways you can accessorize your Crocs. Uh, they had these little pins that you can get, and you can get all kinds of pins. I mean, get avocado on her, whatever you get a little pin and then you just literally plug it into your shoe wherever you want.
[00:01:45] And they're made for this. And so of course, if we're going to go all out, we've got to go all out. So all the kids, we all pick out, you know, a little pins that are all putting pins in our shoes. And I stumbled across this pin for Crocs, that's a bottle opener, and I thought that's kind of cool. And so of course I had to get the bottle opener.
[00:02:03] So I get the bottle opener, you know, to put on my shoes and. Or checking out my, my wife, Michelle is looking over everything and she sees the bottle opener pin. And it's a little bigger than the other ones, as you might imagine. And she's like, what's that? Like, it's a bottle opener. She's like what for? I'm like, babe, think about this.
[00:02:23] Like we're at a party and someone says, oh, I need to open this bottle. I reached down to my shoe, get a bottle opener out. I'm like, that is the ultimate party trick. Without missing a beat. Michelle says to me, Jeremy, no one is inviting you to a party with those shoes. And I have yet to use said party trick at a party, but I'm convinced it will happen at some point because it's just a really cool idea.
[00:02:51] Now here's the deal. You might be thinking, Jeremy, if these shoes are so comfortable, why doesn't everyone wear a pair of Crocs? And I can answer you. Because of the moment that you put a pair of Crocs on your feet, you invite feedback from everyone. Right. It's amazing. Complete strangers will feel comfortable giving you commentary on your apparel if you wear Crocs.
[00:03:12] And let's be honest, most of us don't want that. We don't want that pressure. We don't want that really. So even if I could convince you that Clorox were the most comfortable shoe you'd ever put on, most of you are just not interested because you're not interested in all of the drama that would go with it.
[00:03:26] And I get that and I can appreciate that. You don't know what you're missing out on. But you know what? It's okay. You can play it safe, but so much of life is like that, right. That we might lean in on something where like, oh, if I do. There's going to be all these other things that go with it. And sometimes it's safer just to not try as hard, not to go figure things out because it's easier to play it safe.
[00:03:48] Now, today, I want to look at a passage in second Corinthians four, where Paul is going to give us an illustration. That's a bit strange. And it's one of those. You're going to read it first. You're going to go. I'm not sure I want what Paul is offering here. This doesn't really sound appealing and you know, I think there's something incredible here.
[00:04:04] There's an incredible image for you and I today, and that's why I want us to explore in second Corinthians four. Now you're thinking, did he just really compare Crocs to Paul's argument in second Corinthians four? And the answer is yes. And you'll see why I love both of them in just a moment. Okay. So if you're, I mean, second Corinthians or, and begin reading in verse six, Paul writes these words.
[00:04:26] For God who said, let light shine out of darkness, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God's glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure, that's the light of Jesus in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us.
[00:04:49] We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed. Perplexed, but not in despair. Persecuted, but not abandoned. Struck down, but not destroyed. Now Paul's saying that if you are a Christ follower, you carry around this treasure, which is the light of Christ revealed in the face of Jesus. You carry this around with you.
[00:05:12] Now you go cool. Where do I carry this treasure? In a jar of clay. Now maybe be thinking it's not normally what I'd put treasure in a, it doesn't seem like the safest place to put a treasure. Why would you put it in a jar of clay? Maybe that's all they had back then. Maybe that's why they were going to use jars of clay.
[00:05:31] So they didn't have the same things that we have today. Which is not exactly true. See, Paul could have said, uh, a metal jar. Those were available back then. And in fact, if you break a metal jar, you can repair it. There's incredible value to metal jars because they could last for a long time and be repaired when they would break.
[00:05:49] But Paul doesn't say a metal jar. He could've said a glass jar. Those were common as well. And, and glass jars can break, but at least if a glass jar breaks, you can take the pieces and you can melt it down and you can reuse it and make another glass jar. And so they had some value there, but it doesn't say a glass jar.
[00:06:06] No, he says a clay jar. Which were the cheapest most inexpensive. You can find them everywhere. Why? Because of a clay jar broke, you just threw it away. It was so little a value. Uh, it was so common and that's the jar that Paul picks for, for us to put our treasure in. We have jars of clay. Now you might be thinking that that sounds a bit fragile.
[00:06:32] Why would you put an incredible treasure into a fragile vessel? Is that really what Christianity is all about is this whole thing really fragile. And in fact there would be those that would say to the things that you and I may believe are in fact, fragile beliefs. And they may look at Christianity as a, a fragile tool or a tool for fragile people.
[00:06:53] Is that all this is, is Paul just telling us that we're fragile. Well, I think we're gonna need to use a little bit of logic here to understand Paul's argument. And I understand it's still morning time and some of us, we haven't fully woken up yet. I don't know if you've got all your coffee in you yet. So let me help you wake up a little bit.
[00:07:08] We'll do a little exercise in logic just to get your brain going and then we'll be ready for what Paul's going to say. Now, have you ever heard the expression two wrongs, don't make a right. I want you to consider this and use a logic. Two cutes, don't make a cuter.
[00:07:28] You're welcome for that hunting image. This is just logic people. Okay. This is just logic. You're going away. That went horribly awry. Why does that look so weird? Okay, now you're ready now. You're prime. Ready to go? Let's go look at Paul's argument in verse 10. He says we always carry around in our body, the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed,
[00:07:54] in our body for we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus's sake so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. Huh? Paul was like, if you're going to follow Jesus, you are carrying around with you, the death of Jesus. Which sounds a bit morbid. Let's be honest. I'm carrying around the death of Jesus.
[00:08:20] Why would I do that? Paul says, well, that way the life of Jesus can be revealed in you. You may be thinking, huh? How? How does carrying death around allow life to emerge? Let's go back to the image. Paul said we are clay pots and we're holding a treasure. And again, the treasure, he first, who is the light of Christ.
[00:08:41] Now imagine I had a clay pot and I put a light source inside of it. If I were to crack that clay pot, what would happen to the light source? Well, you would see it. Right every crack on the clay jar, you would begin to see the light emerge through. In fact, if I could break a hole in the side of the clay jar, you would see light emerge from the hole.
[00:09:02] You can break the jar completely, and the light would only get brighter. It would be more evident. And that's Paul's argument here. As we carry around the death of Jesus, as we are the clay jar, we are fragile. There is something that emerges within us. Some treasure of Jesus that we have that only gets stronger as we break.
[00:09:27] Now, this is a weird image. And again, logically, Paul's using some, uh, ideas here that we're not super familiar with. Now we're familiar with some that is fragile. We understand what that means easily to be broke, but what's the opposite of fragile. If you have fragile on one end, what would you say is the complete opposite of that?
[00:09:45] Now maybe we might think of a word like robust right there that you get a fragile on one side robust on the other, but a fragile means something that is easy to break. All robust means is that it will take longer to break. Some of that is robust. Does that mean it's unbreakable? It just means it's going to take you a while to break it.
[00:10:05] Right. And so we go, well, It's not quite the opposite. Well, what would the opposite be? There's actually a word for this and no, I did not make it up. Some have asked the word that is the opposite of fragile. You're ready for it. Anti-fragile I kid you not. So you have fragile, easily broken, robust. We can consider it in the middle.
[00:10:25] I it's strong. It's going to take awhile, but eventually it will break. But what is antifragile? Some of that is antifragile gets better as it is broken. Gets stronger. The more opposition it endures, the better it gets. Now let's illustrate this because again, we're not normally thinking about antifragile things.
[00:10:46] If you're going to go ship a box and let's say you had some glassware that you wanted to ship to somebody you would go to, you know, to UPS, wherever we're going to go, and you would get a sticker for it. And the sticker would say fragile. Now, what are you doing? You're making an appeal to everyone who sees the box, who touches the box, who has anything to do with this box.
[00:11:06] Please be gentle because if you're not the things inside may not make it to the destination in one piece, this is fragile. It is an open appeal to anyone who would see the box. Please do not do anything to this box. Otherwise the package will not get there intact. Now imagine you wanted to ship a shirt or something or clothing, what sticker would you put on that box?
[00:11:32] No sticker. That's every other box we sh we ship that would just be a normal box that you would say it's robust. Now you're not inviting people to abuse the package. Well, all you're saying is, Hey, under normal shipping conditions, that'll get there just fine. Under normal shipping conditions. This shirt isn't fragile.
[00:11:49] Even if the box got a little bit beat up, the shirt's going to be fine. We're going to be fine. You don't need to write anything. But imagine you wanted to ship something that was anti-fragile what sticker would you put on that? That one would say, please mishandle, right? Kick this box, run over this box.
[00:12:07] You would be inviting people to damage the box, because if you were shipping something antifragile, you would know it would only get better with more abuse, with more opposition, it would make the thing inside stronger. Now, maybe you're confused. You're like, what on earth would be like that I'll give you an illustration from the movies.
[00:12:27] Have you ever seen the movie black Panther? Black Panther has a suit, that is anti-fragile. In fact, there's a scene where he's learning about this suit and a sister invites him to kick it. And so he kicks it and the suit stores the energy from the kick. Then he kicks it again and all of his first kick rebounds back on him and knocks them over.
[00:12:46] Cause the suit has become stronger with the opposition. Now, if you've seen the movie, you know, he can take bullets and all sorts of things and all it does is make him stronger. How do you fight someone who's wearing an antifragile suit? The more opposition they get, the stronger they become. It's an incredible image.
[00:13:06] Maybe even thinking, okay, why are we looking at these three images? Here's my question for us. Is Christianity fragile, robust, or anti-fragile. As we think about this thing, that we're a part of. What does it mean to follow Jesus? Is it fragile? Is it robust or is it anti-fragile. Well, I've met Christians who I would consider fragile that they're scared by other ideas, right?
[00:13:34] Conflicting ideas. It's a challenge to their faith. They see a lot of things around them as threats that they got to guard against. They're very cautious against the threats. In fact, any difference from anyone around them who serves as a threat. And so I would say a many Christians, if we're honest, they live out a fragile faith.
[00:13:53] Now, I'd say probably most Christians live out a robust faith and that's a faith that's, I'm going to try really hard. I'm going to do all the right things and it'll work out. And so I'm going to have problems, but I'm going to, I'm going to pray really hard. I'm going to believe really hard. And if I have doubts, I'm just going to outlast them.
[00:14:10] I'm just going to be so strong. Mean those doubts won't catch up to me and a real robust faith works until it doesn't because again, robust just means at some point it can break, but it still has a breaking point. I'd like to suggest that only when we view our faith as anti-fragile do we truly get to experience the power that Jesus has for us. Only when we go, no, I'm not fragile and I'm not robust.
[00:14:36] I am actually really easy to break, but when I break, there is a strength that comes out within me. Only when we see ourselves as antifragile, will we tap into the power of Jesus. The authors Nassim Taleb has a great illustration of this. He says, wind extinguishes a candle and energizes fire. The same catalyst has two totally different reactions.
[00:15:03] Why? Because a candle is fragile, but a fire is not. Now, I love that image because all throughout the Scriptures, you find the Holy Spirit referred to as wind or often as the Breath of God. And I think sometimes the Breath of God, the Holy Spirit, is trying to do things in our life. And if we view it as a fragile faith, the Holy Spirit can extinguish our flame.
[00:15:25] Oh man, I blew me out nothing. Right. But if you understand I'm a fire, I can be energized by this wind. All of a sudden that same wind is no longer a threat. Now that's the movement of God. And I think so often God wants to do things in our lives and we're just afraid of it. Cause we think of ourselves as this little candle.
[00:15:45] Oh, don't, don't get that wind around me. That that might blow it out rather than realizing no, God wants to stoke a flame. God wants to create something inside of us. And this is not just on a personal level. So we can experience God like this, but what happens if a lot of us did. See what would an anti-fragile church look like?
[00:16:05] Now on whatever campus you're on wherever you're seeing this right now, what would it look like if each of these communities collectively became expressions of anti-fragile faith? Where we're together. We were not threatened by one another. We were not threatened by the differences of one another, because we knew our faith is not a fragile thing. And we're not just trying to outlast issues and, and just be strong enough to get through our problems because we know we don't have to be robust.
[00:16:34] Well, what would it look like for a church who actually learned how to thrive when things were difficult? What would that kind of church look like? Not when things resolved, not when things finally got better when things were hard, that's when the church thrived. That's the story of history. If you look throughout the history of Christianity that the church has done, some of the, the biggest growth was explosive growth when things were bad.
[00:17:04] Uh, in fact, the early church was Rome attempted to stamp it out. And we're going to get rid of these Christians and get rid of this whole thing. And the church thrived. Why? Because they knew that they were an anti-fragile community. Now, where do we get this example from? Is this really, you know, is this really in the text?
[00:17:23] Is this really there? Why was it the best example of anti-fragility is not black Panther suit. It's actually Jesus on the cross. See, how did Jesus reveal God? How did, how did God reveal God's power to us? It wasn't on top of a horse with a sword. It was in the moment that Jesus died, that God said, I'm going to show you power.
[00:17:47] I'm going to show you how I win. I win this way. Precisely when it looks like God had lost. Oh, all is as lost. All his forsaken. Give up hope. Evil has one. Just when it looked like it was, is all done. We realize Jesus has conquered sin, has conquered death. It's a beautiful picture. And you see it all throughout the scriptures.
[00:18:10] Paul says in Colossians two, when you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. This is antifragile language. When you were dead, God made you alive, right? Your death wasn't the end of it. God breathed life into. He forgave us all our sins having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us.
[00:18:34] He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross and notice the sense having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them triumphing over them, by the cross. That language is incredible. How did God make a public spectacle of evil? It wasn't through a military coup it was through the cross through his death, makes a spectacle of evil shows his triumph, and it is an antifragile image and it is the power that is available to any who would follow.
[00:19:16] I want to follow that God, I want to follow that Jesus. That's the kind of power that's available to us. You see if we follow an antifragile God, the invitation is to become anti-fragile as well. And yet I fear we have turned Christianity into something that is safe and respectable and comfortable, and we have lost the power.
[00:19:39] We have lost the danger and the risk and the boldness that often accompanies this kind of power. And in fact, one guy Mason Mennenga says it like this. I love that there are multiple times in the Bible that followers of Jesus escaped a prison. I love it too. That's the kind of story we, we, we read, these are the people who we inherit the space from. People who broke out of prison
[00:20:05] multiple times. You apply that today and go, how would you view that. Those are criminals, right? We'd have a totally different view of it today, but back then, that's how they did it. That's how God revealed God's power. And yet we just have this different I view today. And I think we've missed some of the power available to this.
[00:20:24] The gospel is inviting us in Jesus is inviting us in to experience what it means to become antifragile. In June 2017. Uh, John Roberts, the chief justice of the United States Supreme court was asked to give the commencement speech at his son's graduation. I want to read part of what he said, because what he said on that speech is a very unusual graduation lecture.
[00:20:51] Here's what he said. From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly so that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope that you will suffer betrayal because that will teach you the importance of loyalty. Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time so that you don't take friends for granted.
[00:21:17] I wish you bad luck again, from time to time so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life and understand that your success is not completely deserved and that the failure of others is not completely deserved either. And when you lose as you will, from time to time, I hope every now and again, your opponent will gloat over your failure.
[00:21:42] It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship. I hope you'll be ignored so that you'll know the importance of listening to others. And I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion, whether I wish these things or not they're going to happen. And whether you benefit from them or not will depend upon your ability to see the message in your misfortunes.
[00:22:10] That is one heck of a graduation speech. Can you imagine sitting there with your child? And I should also point out that his son was graduating from middle school.
[00:22:22] Which makes that speech even more amazing. Now, as far as I know, he was not invited back for the high school. I don't know. If that can be true of life, that all of those hardships can produce something so good. How much more should this be true of those of us that follow Jesus. How much more should that be true of those of us who follow the God that went to a cross, suffered a defeat in order to reveal God's power.
[00:22:52] How much more should that be true for us? Was it? Oh yeah, this is the kind of power. This is the invitation that we are invited to experience today. We get to become a clay jar that continually breaks and reveals a treasure more and more and more. Second Corinthians one nine says, indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death, but this happened that we might not rely on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead.
[00:23:26] See, that's the choice for each of us. You can rely on yourself and try to be as robust as possible, or you can re realize I I'm just a clay jar, but I hold a treasure that is only going to get brighter as I break. And rather than relying on myself, I'm going to rely on the God who can raise the dead, who can breathe new life, who can breathe a power into me.
[00:23:49] And it's not about my efforts. It's not about my energy anymore. And so here's the question I have for each of us today, as we think about, well, what do we do with a message like this? Would you risk more if you believed that you were anti-fragile? Cause that's really what it comes down to. Would you live differently?
[00:24:09] Would you make different decisions? Would you have a different value system? If you knew it wasn't about how strong you could be? How, how tough you could be, how good you could be. If you knew that even when you break. Your treasure is revealed. W w what would you do differently? How would you manage your money differently?
[00:24:29] If all this, the things that often create the worry and the, I couldn't do that because what if you said, no, I'm not worried about that anymore. I'm going to risk differently. How would you pursue your career differently? Hey, I don't need to worry about the things that people worry about, because I know that am I'm antifragile as I'm going to pursue this differently.
[00:24:49] W would you interact with people around you differently because you knew you were antifragile and relationships would be different because of it. Do you think you would trust Jesus more or less? If you really envisioned yourself with an antifragile faith? See, it's an incredible invitation for us to live and truly experience the power of the cross each and every day.
[00:25:18] I want to close with something that the author Sarah Bessey writes, and she does such a good job of putting words and emotions to what this feels like when you actually decide to experience Jesus in this way. She writes this. And acknowledging the heaviness of our grief and sorrow. We can broaden our hope and our capacity for joy.
[00:25:43] We don't need to pretend that we aren't angry. That we aren't cynical or afraid that we aren't feeling hopeless or uncomfortable, anxious or exhausted. Our prayers can be laments of grief or cries for justice and challenge. It's often only in naming those things that we find room to reclaim and imagination for hope and healing and goodness, we get to yell,
[00:26:12] weep, give thanks. Sit in silence until we sink down in the love of God that has always been holding us, whether we knew it or not, let's pray together.
[00:26:29] Jesus, may we accept this incredible invitation to realize we are just a clay jar, but our fragility is not the end of the story because we carry a treasure. And that treasure is revealed as we break. And because of that, we can live life differently. We can risk differently. We can love differently. We can live with a boldness and a courage because we know the power inside of us.
[00:27:06] And so would you captivate our imaginations with the cross with the way you revealed your power? Not in a traditional sense, but through defeat, through sacrifice and suffering, maybe we realize that when we go through those same things, that your power is revealed in us. So may we not fear what the world fears, but may we believe in the treasure that we carry around and we pray all this in Jesus name and all God's people said, amen.