During a return flight from a business trip in Europe, some colleagues and I had a layover in Frankfurt. For those who may not have traveled through it, the airport in Frankfurt is a large international hub, and so after a lot of walking (and probably one or two additional security screenings, which seems to be standard at this airport), we arrived at our gate. It was down at the very end of a long terminal, but we had claimed some chairs and space for us and our baggage. Since we were in a group, we took turns sitting with the suitcases, alternating with others in walking back to the commercial section of the terminal, where we could get something to eat and maybe a few souvenirs for those back home.
I was sitting at the gate, when a colleague returned to relieve me of my baggage-watching duties. I jumped up, made a quick turn back to the other end of the terminal, and as I started to head back, I discovered something: At the end of each row of seats, a low table was attached. This table was about 12 inches (or, in Frankfurt, about 300mm) off of the ground. I know this particular piece of trivia – the height of the table – because I still have the scar where I solidly cracked my shin on it, cutting it open. That particular wound has persisted for years since that trip, and whether the remaining lump on my leg is full of scar tissue, bone chips, or a piece of the table, it is a reminder that we should probably all look where were are going.
The pastor at my church was talking one Sunday morning about how our experiences in life impacted us. He used the example of tattoos, which often tell a story or bring back memories of a specific event in our lives (good or bad). It seems to me, though, that it is sometimes our scars – permanent marks on our body that we don’t get to choose – that also remind us of what we have gone through, in order to get to where we are today.
While these can be helpful metaphors, the apostle Paul wrote about something even more significant than just a scratch or some ink:
We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
2 Corinthians 4:10 NIV
This might sound a little morbid, although some pastors remind us that crosses (worn by some Christians as jewelry, or posted as symbolic reminders around their house) were torture devices and an execution tool in the first century. If Jesus delivering salvation to humankind – through the Romans’ gory spectacle – isn’t the ultimate conversion of evil into good, I’m not sure what is!
For us today, who don’t live in the Roman Empire of old, what does this look like? To learn more about Paul’s specific message, let’s back up a few verses:
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV
When people choose to follow Jesus, deferring to Him as the leader of their lives, their existence is no longer focused on themselves. Just as Jesus brought glory to God the Father (even though Jesus is God the Son), we can show how great God is by letting Him demonstrate His power when we are weak (see 2 Corinthians 12:9-10). We may even experience some of the same sufferings as Jesus did, knowing that – because God will remain faithful to us, as He did to Jesus – we will ultimately see victory. This victory won’t occur because we are personally powerful or perfect, but instead it will be something that was clearly achievable only by God’s power.
At the same time, we can celebrate the great victory that Jesus earned as He, through His sacrifice, conquered the power of sin that enslaved us. We can also rejoice, remembering how – shortly after His heroic sacrifice – He then crushed death, as He was raised from the dead. That is, we may carry around the death of Jesus, but not as an omen of gloom. Instead, we carry around the message that Jesus’ death achieved world-changing good, for us and for all who claim it.
I hope that the evidence of Jesus’ transformation in your life isn’t reflected as scars. Sometimes, our “clay pots” – these breakable mortal bodies – show some wear and tear, but we can also show Jesus’ impact on us through positive blessings in our lives. Still, however you allow God’s power to show through their life, I certainly hope that those around you see evidence of Jesus.