Disposable or Moldable?
We live in an increasingly Disposable society. From razors to cups, paper towels to hypodermic needles, we mass produce disposable items every day. However, it seems to me that more and more things every year fall in to this ‘disposable’ category. These days, we can include things like computers, phones and even cars to the list of things we discard after a short period of time. Interestingly, as I was pondering this subject, I did a bit of research on the internet and bumped into a very interesting phrase - Planned obsolescence. Apparently, the idea of Planned obsolescence developed as a manufacturing philosophy in the 1920’s and 1930’s at the beginning of the mass-production boom in America. The idea was to produce products that would fail, decrease in value or become obsolete over time so that people would replace their products more quickly. While this may seem like a dubious conspiracy theory, many of you may be reading this blog on your ‘old’ cell phone (which you’ve had for 2 years) while waiting in a long line to get your new cell phone (which you will replace in 2 years😉).
This whole idea of a disposable society hit me this week as I’ve been continuing to meditate on Isaiah 64. As many of you may recall, I preached on Isaiah 64:1–9 a few weeks ago, on the first Sunday of Advent. In that text, Isaiah laments the sins of the Israelites, calling even their righteousness “filthy rags”. He even goes so far as to partially implicate God by suggesting that the Israelites sinned because God turned his back on them. The thing that has stayed with me about this passage is the fact that even after all of Isaiah's lamenting and bemoaning about the many sins of God's people, in Isaiah 64:8 he reminds both parties – God and the Israelites – that God is their Father and that they are his moldable Clay. They are not disposable – not to be tossed aside and forgotten because of their lumps and flaws, their brokenness and their many imperfections. No, this passage reminds us of our wonderful Wesleyan doctrine of prevenient grace – the doctrine that teaches us that God never gives up on anyone! I don't know about you, but I desperately need to be reminded, daily if not hourly, that God never gives up on me, that he is both my Father and the Potter who will continue lovingly and artistically to shape me into the man he wants me to be.
This has been all the more meaningful to me because as a pastor, it is easy for me to give up on people. Quite frankly, I am often confronted with things that leave me discouraged and wanting to give up on people. This passage, with its beautiful reminder of God's prevenient grace, has challenged me to stop thinking of people as disposable and remember that God thinks of all of us as moldable clay in His hands. As a church, may we continue to be shaped and formed by our Potter to think of people moldable clay - precious parts of His creation who contain His image, beautiful works of art that simply need to be restored. May we cease to think of people as commodities, seeking to replace the broken, addicted, tossed-aside and poor and replace them with the shiny, the new, the well-groomed and the beautiful. May we each strive to see those around us through the eyes of our Father-Potter, rather than through the eyes of a cynical, consumeristic, Disposable world.