We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. (NLT)
Most of us have lived long enough to experience the disappointment of others letting us down. We expected more support, more insight, more love. We didn’t get it. Or we joined a church or other Christian group and expected more godliness and more enthusiasm than we got.
Sadly, this drives some away from other people or Christian community. Our hopes have been dashed so we give it all up as a bad joke. Here we need to take heed of the warning of Dietrich Bonhoeffer who warned that idealism was the death of Christian community. To expect too much is to guarantee at least a measure of disillusionment.
Expecting too much of our friends or our community can cause a hardening of our emotional and spiritual arteries. We can become withdrawn and cynical. We can lose sight of the fact that God is only ever able to work through imperfect people as they are all he has. And we can lose sight of the fact that we have our own imperfections and inevitably fail to meet the expectations others have of us.
Paul warns about this sort of thing. He is telling us not to be surprised at human fragility, but allow it to point to the power of God. Human beings are, after all, only human.