Skip to main content

playing with fire...

I started a small fire in my toaster oven this afternoon. It was no big deal. The flames soon subsided when they ran out of breadcrumbs and the only harm done was that my toast had that outdoorsy flame-broiled smoky taste which I didn't mind at all. It was a contained fire and caused no panic or fear in my life whatsoever.

How can the sight of such a powerful force only squeeze a bemused smirk from my face? Because it has not been unleashed. It is safely restricted to a small box and turned on and off at my convenience. It is tame. But fire, real raging fire! Now that's different! When I see that, I grab all my valuables, the two cats, and run!

Our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12), yet I find myself too often not impressed by his presence. Perhaps this is because I have relegated him to a nice safe distance. He serves a certain purpose, but I do not fall on my face in awe and fear everytime I sense him. Perhaps that is because his nearness is in reality, rather distant, and I feel more at ease without his hot breath on my neck. Yes, he is comforting; yes, he is loving; yes, he is a friend to sinners; yes, he is compassionate. But let us never forget he is holy. The very nature of fire is to consume everything it touches. We cannot suppose that we can come close to a holy God and not be affected: our frail humanity will be singed and any part of us that harbours evil will be totally obliterated. It is the mercy of God that we are not all consumed. I have become so accustomed to being clothed in mercy that I forget that underneath it all I am poor and naked and wretched. And afraid to come close.

They say that those who play with fire will get burned. I suppose if no one had ever played with fire, I would not be enjoying my toaster oven or my gas grill or my heating system today. Someone dared to come close, and changed the world. Why not me?

Comments

Doug Floyd said…
"We cannot suppose that we can come close to a holy God and not be affected..."

Though it costs us everything, may we plunge into the fire of His love. Thanks. Good word.

Popular posts from this blog

fun with hermeneutics

I am a reader. The stacks of books in my bedroom, living room, and office, many of them still waiting to be cracked open, testify to this fact. I love to read, but I also know that not all reading is the same. Some is more work and some is more pleasure. A light work of fiction requires little of me but to engage my imagination and be carried away by the story. Online reading requires a bit (or a lot) of discernment to make sure the sources are reliable and the facts check out. Academic reading requires me to reason through the arguments being made and connect them to what I already know or have read in the field. Reading an ancient text requires that I suspend my 21st century perspective as best I can and learn a bit about the worldview and language of the time. Acknowledging a text's context, intent, and genre enables me to hear the words and ideas in such a way that my view of history and the world are enlarged.

Reading, interpreting, and understanding the Bible are important …

stained and broken

Recently, I was asked to speak at another church, and the passage of Scripture which was assigned to me was John 1:6-8. "There came a man commissioned and sent from God, whose name was John. This man came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe [in Christ, the Light] through him. John was not the Light, but came to testify about the Light." (John 1:6-8, Amplified Bible)

The first question I usually ask when reading something in the Bible is this: What does this tell me about God? Two things are immediately obvious - God is a sending God and God wants to communicate - but there is a third which merits a bit more attention. Though God could communicate directly with humanity, sending truth and love to every individual via some divine mind-and-heart-meld, God chooses to send messengers. Not only that, instead of introducing Jesus directly to the world as the main event, an opening, warm-up act appears as a precursor. What is the point of incorporati…

what binds us together?

For the past few weeks, I have been reading a book by famed psychiatrist M. Scott Peck which chronicles his travels (together with his wife) through remote parts of the UK in search of prehistoric stones. The book is part travel journal, part spiritual musings, part psychology, and part personal anecdotes. A mixed bag, to be sure, and not always a winning combination. At one point, I considered putting the book aside, not finishing it, but then Peck started writing about community. He is no stranger to the concept. He has led hundreds of community-building workshops over the years, helped start a non-profit organisation dedicated to fostering community, and written a compelling book about the topic, one which greatly impacted me when I read it oh so long ago.[1]

In preparation for a course I am teaching next year, I have been doing quite a bit of study on unity and community. Once you start thinking about it, you see and hear evidence of it everywhere. (See my blog on the impact of b…