The human body is a very unique mechanical piece of equipment. It is highly complex (so complex that evolution simply can never account for it) that it does amazing things. However, it is not limitless. This is very well illustrated in water diving. The human body can dive unassisted to depths of up to 200 feet without encountering many side/adverse effects, although most people will never get even that close to the bottom. However, once the body drops below that it encounters a boatload (pun intended) of problems. Blood gasses expand or shrink depending on the depth. Nitrogen and other non life supporting gasses take over (think bends). Divers have to be careful, using dive tables to limit their times at dangerous depths and time the ascent so as not to rise to the surface too quickly, allowing their bodies to resume normal activity. Nowadays with proper knowledge and practice, hardly any divers find themselves suffering from such issues.
But that isn't the only issue. There is the issue of pressure. As the human body descends lower in the water, the amount of outside pressure increases. We would imagine the sea as something that is tranquil and welcoming, but that is only on the surface. Deep below, it literally crushes anything that isn’t specifically designed to be there. That goes for things like submarines and human beings. But man has been able to beat some of these problems to be where he wasn’t designed.
Enter the JIM suit. This suit is designed to dive to deep depths (although I cannot imagine the human being that uses it). While it is designed of strong materials, the backbone is the controlled interior environment. The suit is designed to maintain an interior pressure that is stabilized, that prevents the operator from experiencing any of the maladies that a human would at depths of over 2000 feet below the surface. So the protection of the suit is inside, not outside.
The Christian lives in a hostile world. This wold is hostile to us emotionally, spiritually and physically. We can/are/will feel the pressure and oppression of this world in all three of these spheres. This is what Paul writes about in 2 Corinthians 4:
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; 8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
Notice what Paul says:
1- Our mortal structures, while unique, aren’t invincible. The use of the illustration of earthen vessels is quite purposeful. They used clay and earthen materials to carry food and drink. The vessels were efficient, but they aren’t our modern day ceramic fixtures. They had to be taken care of, lest they be dashed to pieces. Just one slip and the vessel would be damaged beyond repair, and thrown away.
2- We are afflicted in every way. No, he didn’t say we might be afflicted, or that the affliction comes in only one way. We are afflicted in every way.
3- Yet Paul says amidst the incredible pressure presented outwardly on very fragile frames, the incredible happens: they do NOT fail! They are not crushed, struck down nor destroyed. They are preserved and saved by something inward:
10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
That one verse has long perplexed me. What does it mean that we carry about the dying Christ inside of us? Is this mere mystical musings? Is this referring to something that only the specially informed receive? Or is this the power of the Gospel that resides in every believer?
* Jesus’ vocation on this earth revolved around His death. In Mark 10:45 Jesus reaffirmed to His followers that His task on this earth was “to give my life a ransom for many”. He likewise taught HIs disciples that a kernel of wheat, in order for it to give life, must die (John 12:24). His death was the entire reason for HIs birth (John 12:27). That is why He made the forthright declaration
“For this reason I have come”
*The person who trust Christ, then dies to themselves and this world. The disciples understood this idea when Jesus commanded them to take up their cross to follow HIm. Paul gives a rather lengthy but vivid description of this concept in Romans 6 (Please go read it now, before going any further). So Christian baptism does indeed illustrate death (being buried) and resurrection tothe new birth and subsequently new life.
*The person who calls on Christ has done something (or experienced something) truly extraordinary: they have had all their sins taken care of, they have been forgiven, and they have become the dwelling place of God. So how does this tie together?
I am a person who exists in a very weak body. It is not as weak as it could be, but it is not running like a top, either. I have been afflicted with a neurological disease. This should not be completely surprising because we remember that Paul said we ARE afflicted in many ways. Some are persecuted for their faith, others experience a series of events completely out of their control, yet others get sick. In other words, we are plunged to the depths of the ocean where it is crushing to despair, yet we are not crushed. Why is that?
Christ dwells in my, since I called upon Him to save my eternal soul. He maintains the proper environment inside of me to keep me from being crushed. Because Christ dwells richly within me, I have the hope of the Gospel for this world. Do I have despair? I’ve been on the brink a few times, but I haven’t despaired of life. I carry around in me the dying of my Lord, which is enough to weather the storm and even the depths of the seas. This is exactly how countless Christians before me have faced horrible circumstances, and yet did not collapse.
To be honest, I do not see how people face such adversity without this hope. I have hope that God can and will use me for many more years, to share this blessed Gospel. I have hope that when that time has passed, I can sing as the hymn writer wrote:
We know not yet what we will be In heaven’s final blessed state
But know we now that we shall see our lord at heaven’s gate
The beatific glory view
That now our souls still long to see Will make us all at once anew
And like Him forever be
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is our only hope. It is the best hope. It is hope enough.