Who shapes the clay?

Jeremiah 18:1-11
For Sunday, September 4, 2016
Proper 18, Year C

Am I really a boy or a girl?  Amidst the massive transformation our culture is undergoing as regards gender, Jeremiah 18 provides both insight and hope.

Else Berg, "Potter"

Else Berg, “Potter”

One of my former co-workers underwent a gender change.  I met with him over coffee to seek understanding and offer friendship.  He appreciated this.  As I reflected back on that conversation I realized that a crying need in today’s culture is to find identity.  This may help explain the current interest in tattoos and the Burning Man Festival.

So is identity something we each have to choose for ourselves?  Jeremiah 18 provides a very different answer: our identity is shaped by God.   This applies not only to individuals but also to nations.  God says, “At one moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, but if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will change my mind about the disaster that I intended to bring on it.

As clay, rather than trying to shape ourselves, the Bible invites us to pursue a relationship with our Potter.  The hard truth is that God is going to shape us whether we like it or not.  “Now, therefore,  therefore, say to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: Thus says the LORD: Look, I am a potter shaping evil against you and devising a plan against you. Turn now, all of you from your evil way, and amend your ways and your doings.”

The good news is that God offers us the chance to turn back to him before he reshapes us.  Jesus did not come to condemn anyone.  He came “that they might have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

What do you think about the current gender controversy swirling in our culture?  What insights would you point to from this passage or other parts of the Bible?



4 thoughts on “Who shapes the clay?

  1. livebigministries

    One thought is it’s the same clay. Who we are and how we are shaped are not synonymous..The clay is the shell and GOD is the source. There is a sense of being reshaped from the passage that might offer hope…..

  2. Jerri L Handy

    I had a child born with a birth-defect. There was confusion in the delivery room. The gender of the baby was not clear. At 10 weeks of age, with the results gathered from many tests, we sat down with the Doctors in order to make a gender assignment. (This was over 30 years ago, it was different now than it is now.) We decided our baby was a boy. at 18 months old our son had surgery to look like a boy. The story of the potter and the clay became a story of liberation for me. God would be guiding the hands of the surgeon as my baby boy’s body was transformed from the ambiguous to the specifics of male-ness. It was not easy in those early years. I thank God for the hope of being reworked/transformed by the hands of God, in this instance as well as many others in my life.


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