Summary: Christ came to start a fire ... how he wished it had been kindled! But it wasn’t so he set the world on fire!
As I was enjoying a long bike ride this week I was amazed at the fact that I had ridden by myself on the path for some way and not realized the terrain and surroundings had changed. I was self absorbed in thought and was not realizing the beauty around me. The trees had gone from maple and elm to poplar and closed in on the path a little. It was a haven of growth completely surrounding me, a tunnel of green. Like moving from the city terrain to the country terrain we drive along and watch the change. Country says fields, farm houses, barns, cows, horses and fields of corn and wheat – City terrain has houses side by side, malls, condos, buses, street lights, box stores on every corner, and a created green space. I stopped and layed down my bike and pulled out my water bottle and my bible. I wanted to review again the passages from this week’s lectionary and see how they resonated in me in order to make some sense and work through it a message with some meaning. Placing my big towel on the ground, being careful to avoid the poison ivy, I plopped down cross legged to think and to read.
It was so quiet and the wind was moving the trees. I was in the middle between two concessions so there was no road noise or any foreign sounds. Nature and God were all around me. I listened to the wind talking to me. I watched the sun as it played peek-a-boo behind the clouds and I waited as the ants, grasshoppers and earth bound critters got used to me sitting there and went on about their business. A chipmunk worked its way through the grass and skittered across the path. A symphony of sound resonating through this tiny little point on a radar screen. My little space that I claimed for the moment. No one else can feel what I feel and no other being can relate to this snapshot in time. Isn’t it easy to be a Christian and follow God here in this setting?
alone with our own theology,
unaccompanied in our views,
solitary in our existence.
How peaceful it all is, and it is there for us to use, attain and grasp. God has provided for us the discernment to see when life gets tough, when the road is rocky, when the sea is turbulent peace is within us to draw this moment out and settle ourselves. We all have many ways we can do this. For some it is gardening, some it is music, some it is reading and others it maybe having tea and chatting with a friend but we all have our own way of stepping back from life and refueling our tank.
What about the flip side of the coin, the balance of the time? When it is not so easy, when there is not such beauty and reflective time to be at peace. When we are in the fire. God is the Potter and we are the clay. (Jeremiah 18) This symbolism has been used to relate undoubtedly that God shapes and mold us as we live. God maneuvers our spirit and if we do not go through the fire we are not finished yet! We are not cured! We are not prepared or preserved. Firing brings strength and power to our belief and resilience …
Luke 12:49 – 56 is Jesus talking about fire. Verse 49 says, “I came to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already kindled! …” How I wish it were already kindled… Jesus not only started the fire, he needed to kindle it and fuel it, he lived it and he set it ablaze. He left it a roaring inferno to forever burn. But in order for it to continue burning it needs fuel and energy. Jesus brought with him love and compassion and most of all he brought faith in unanswered questions.
Rob Bell poses, “The Christian faith is mysterious to the core. It is about things and beings that ultimately can’t be put into words. Language fails. And if we do definitively put God into words we have at that very moment made God something God is not.” (page 32)
God is a mystery unfolding each and every moment of each and every day. God is our living and breathing decision making existence. Jesus came to “shake up” the people of his time and those for thousands of years after. Jesus changed life as it was known and gave God flesh. Jesus fired this world up into a reality of love and God-like existence. He succeeded and we know it ……… because 2000 years later we still ask W.W.J.D.? What would Jesus do? And we do it!!