Have you ever been to a pottery shop? Not the fancy ones with a gallery of expensive pieces. A pottery shop where there is dirt on the ground, maybe some wooden tables and shelves. Those tables and shelves hold pieces of masterfully designed clay, shaped into various vessels for use by the buyer.
Nestled in the heart of North Carolina is a little town called Seagrove, home to hundreds of local potters. Each artist has his or her own style, colors, and types of creations. There is a story and history behind every one of them. It would take days or weeks to hear them all.
One of the local potters, Sid Luck, is a fifth-generation potter who continues the traditional method of his craft. Many of his pieces are part of my own collection, and I treasure each one.
Several years ago, during an especially hot July 4th week, my oldest daughter had the opportunity to spend some time with Mr. Luck. She was showing artistic talents and had become interested in learning how to throw pottery.
Sid was so kind to allow us to come to his shop, Luck’s Ware, where he explained the process, and even helped Gracie create a couple of pieces of her own.
It was fascinating. Although I had seen this for myself before, it sparked new life into a once somewhat mundane topic.
A Common Thing
To a local resident, pottery is a very common part of life. It is rare to go in a home and not find at least one piece, even if it is just a coffee cup. Pottery is familiar to so many of us who grew up in that area. Yet it holds so many illustrations to us as Christians. There are different kinds of pieces, but each has a purpose. Each one is unique, even within the same group of designing and firing.
Now, I don’t want you to think when I talk about pottery that this is the only type of vessel. There are also boats, baskets, buckets, forks, beds, and many more.
Yes, forks and beds. How?
A vessel has two characteristics:
- It has to be created.
- It holds something.
Creation of a Vessel
Let’s start by looking at a vessel’s creation.
The Hebrew word for “potter” is translated “former”, as in “one who forms”. Do you remember from the Creation account in the book of Genesis when God created Adam?
He fashioned mankind so we could have a relationship with Him. Ephesians 2:10 refers to the creation of the Christian by God:
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
We are His “workmanship”. Just as a piece of pottery is the pride of the potter, we are God’s “masterpiece”, as noted in the New Living Translation. The English Standard Version translates it as “handiwork”.
Musical geniuses such as Beethoven and Mozart created masterpieces in their symphonies and preludes. Artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo painted works that are recognizable even to the youngest generations.
And the Bible says we are God’s masterpieces! We are His handiwork!
We are His vessels.
Before a piece of pottery is made, a lump of clay is taken from the ground. It is helpless and hopeless alone. The potter must mold it, shape it, and fire it (more on that later).
Ephesians 2:10 says that God created us “in Christ Jesus”. Before we became a Christian, we were just as hopeless and helpless as that yucky lump of clay. Verse 12 says we were “without hope”. We were “dead in…sins” (v. 1).
But that is not the end of the story. Romans 5:6,8 adds hope to our hopeless situation: “when we were yet without strength” and “still sinners, Christ died for us.” Not only were we created, but we were created “in Christ Jesus”!
Usefulness of a Vessel
Do you remember the second characteristic of a vessel? It holds something. It is useful.
Our hope is found in Christ. God makes us new creatures because of Him. Our usefulness does not save us. Once we are saved, however, God desires that we do the good works we were created to do.
The vessel is not just created. It is useful. It serves its purpose to honor its creator.
Over the next few weeks, we are going to dive further into this topic of vessels. We are going to learn about being filled and the many ways we can honor God by living as a useful vessel.
I look forward to walking through this study with you! I would love to hear the things God is teaching you. Comment below the posts, and subscribe to sign up for emails. You don’t want to miss even one lesson!
Until next time,