Friday, March 16, 2012

Commentary: Spiritual Pipettes

Spiritual Pipettes


In every field of work there are instruments and devices to perform that work.  Each of these has their proper names and what they are used for also may have a name.  In the laboratory where I work most of the tests are performed with automated and computerized instruments.  There is no need to do make reagents.  All that the instrument needs is pretty much supplied by the manufacturer; typically in plastic containers.  One of the tests we do, however, is still performed the old way.  We have to make our own reagents.  This requires weighing solids, measuring volume and mixing.  So, we still use the old kind of containers for the preparation of these reagents.  There are many kinds of containers with different shapes and sizes and made out of different materials.  Each of them has a purpose. 


Unlike what many people may think, our tests are not really experiments.  There are procedures that have been tested and have been found to reproduce a constant, accurate and precise result.  So, when preparing the reagents we pretty much follow a recipe:  you weigh so much of this and add so much that.  It always has to be the same amount.  So, for weighing we have a balance.  For measuring volume of liquids we have graduated cylinders and volumetric flasks.   If I need to transfer a certain amount of liquid from one flask to another, we have pipettes.  With a pipette you suction a certain amount of liquid inside the pipette from one flask and dispense it in another flask.  Manual pipettes are graduated so you know how much you are suctioning inside and how much you are dispensing.  Now we have electronic pipettes where the amount suctioned and dispensed can be programmed.  Either way, the pipette has but one principle: they are filled with a liquid to later be emptied.  Unlike, many of the other flasks that can be used for storage, pipettes have only one function: transferring liquid.    They are filled to be emptied; just as a pot from a potter.


In Jeremiah 18, the Lord tells Jeremiah to "arise and go down to the potter's house . . . to hear [the Lord's] words" (Jeremiah. 18:2).  Let us read the rest of the story. 


Jeremiah 18:3 Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.

Jeremiah 18:4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.

Jeremiah 18:5 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

Jeremiah 18:6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.


In case we miss it Isaiah tells us who the potter and the pot represents, "But now, O LORD, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand" (Isaiah 64:8). 


We learn from this parable that we are a "vessel" the Lord has been forming on the potter's wheel. He has a happy purpose for you to be useful in His great work of lighting the earth with the glory of His "everlasting gospel" message.  But, no matter who you are, as a vessel you have in some way been "marred," because "all" of us "have sinned, and [do] come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). The only "vessel" the Potter has succeeded in turning on His wheel that has turned out perfect is Jesus Christ Himself. His experience on the "wheel" is illustrated in Isaiah 50:4, 5, where the Father awakened Jesus "morning by morning . . . to hear as the learned." The Father taught Him during those early hours. He constantly resisted our temptation to be "rebellious" and "turn away back."


 In His mercy the Divine Savior-Potter never throws any marred vessel (us) in the trash, no matter how lowly it may have become in its being "marred." There's always a useful purpose left that you and I can serve. There is the "good news" encouragement. So, the Potter always takes the marred vessel to "[makes] it again into another vessel, as it seem[s] good to the Potter to make" (v. 4). This is redemption in action. 


As a pipette, every "vessel" is made to receive something, from which it can be poured out in some act of service to others.  It's a container to be filled and emptied continuously.  However, since we are talking spiritually remember that the "vessels" in this parable are living beings that have been given freedom of choice that can "resist God's will." So, unlike the real vessel we can resist the Potter's work.  Paul seems to consider this foolishness, "But who are you, my friend" asks Paul, "to talk back to God? A clay pot does not ask the man who made it, 'Why have you made me like this?'" (Rom. 9:19, 20, GNB).  Remember that in this context Paul thinks of himself as the chief of fools (1 Timothy 1:15).  Just as Paul reconciled with God, it is obvious that the "clay pot" needs to be reconciled in heart to the Potter! This is accomplished in an amazing way.


The Potter Himself has become clay; the Son of God Himself has emptied Himself in those seven steps of condescension in Philippians 2:5-8, "even [to] the death of the cross" which involved enduring being "made" the "curse of God" (cf. Gal. 3:13). Tried and tempted, feeling "forsaken" by God, He has known to the full what no other human being in history has known to the full—what it feels like for the Potter to throw someone into the trash. He "took" upon His sinless nature our "sinful flesh" that He might "in every way be tempted that we are, but did not sin" (Heb 4:15). Then He died the world's "second death" for every man (2:9), so that no one of us might have to feel what it's like to be thrown in the eternal trash heap (cf. Rev. 20:15).  Christ is the greatest vessel, for He tells us all come get living water from Him (John 14: 10 – 14; 7:38), He will never run out (be exhausted). 


Each of us is an empty vessel each new morning of life. But "God has poured out His love [agape] into our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit, who is God's gift to us" (Rom. 5:5, GNB). He fills each empty, willing vessel.  We empty our vessels on others, and Christ refills us as needed.  

Raul Diaz