“I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled!”
Getting fired up is a thing because the earliest excitement of our faith wears off over time. In the second chapter of Revelation, this comes back as an indictment against the Church at Ephesus. Jesus, says: “I have this against you: You have abandoned your first love.”
That’s a strong criticism that some may feel is unjust. You are doing all the right things, you just are not FEELING it anymore. I wonder how many considered the Gospel as an exercise in feeling. The practical among us may call this slack-tivism. It doesn’t accomplish anything. Isn’t it shallow to base your faith on feeling?
But… ask any wife who’s NOT looking for the guy who takes out the trash, but looking for her bridegroom, the guy who has gone into hiding. That’s a picture of Christ and his church.
We have all these markers of faith that lead back like a trail of bread crumbs for two thousand years, to Jesus and his ministry. It wasn’t a philosophy he left with us, it’s the reality of the miraculous.
Sit in the place of people who have been truly wounded, offended by sin, oppressed by those in seats of power: they are looking to be redeemed by one worthy. A Messiah wouldn’t cut the mustard if he was merely a dashing political figure who talked nice. A REAL Messiah would DO something about the problem of evil.
In Luke chapter 7 Jesus’ authority is questioned by none other than his own cousin John. It seems that John was too chicken to ask Jesus himself, so his disciples came to ask, “are you REALLY the one we were waiting for?”
Jesus answer throws back a few barbs - that his ministry had shaken up the natural order, and in case you were doubting, open up your eyeballs.
The whole passage reads like this: “when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?’” In that hour he cured many of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many that were blind he bestowed sight. And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. Blessed is he who takes no offence at me.”
Jesus is quoting the 35th chapter of the Prophet Isaiah, who proclaimed the arrival of the Kingdom of God with signs and wonders.
“Say to those with fearful hearts, “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert… And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness… only the redeemed will walk there.”
It sounds like Jesus was getting a little fired up. He was telling John to open his eyes. All he had to do was watch the purposes of God unfold before him and get a little excited in return.
It’s all over the Bible, this call to holy fire. On the road to Emmaus, the two travellers compare notes on what it was like when the risen Jesus walked with them and expounded all the Scriptures concerning his death and resurrection.
They noted: “Didn’t our hearts burn within us when he opened up the Scriptures?” So, if you are feeling it, don’t be ashamed. It’s called holy fire. My advice would be, go with it. It might be the appropriate response.
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