Today’s Bible reading
We receive a Kingdom which cannot be shaken . . . For our God is a consuming fire. —Hebrews 12
More thoughts for meditation
John the Baptist told people that “one is coming who will baptize you with the Spirit and with fire” (Matthew 3). Jesus told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem after he rose until that fire came upon them, and it did (Acts 2). The writer of Hebrews says this fiery baptism is like receiving an “unshakeable” kingdom (Hebrews 12), which includes a healing so deep the brokenness transmitted by our ancestors is given a chance to heal, and our bond with our ultimate Parent is restored! The longer we are on the way of Jesus, the greater our sense of awe in relation to God’s power.
There are two sides to the image of spiritual “fire” at work in us: renewal and refinement.
Renewal: Fire is warmth in our cold hearts and light in our dark rooms. These images compel us and capture our longing for closeness to God who is Other than us but who needs us, not because of nature but because of love. We are other than God but we need God. There is a spark between us.
Refinement: Fire is passion in our relationships and compassion; it is about power and cleansing. It is hot and bright. Sometimes it hurts because we feel so deeply and because it searches us so completely. The challenge of knowing God, who is a “consuming fire” is one reason many people languish in the earth or wind stages, the first act, of life.
An unrenewed or unrefined disciple should not play with fire. In Luke 9 the disciples ask, “Lord, should we call down fire from heaven to burn them up?” Jesus turned and rebuked them. We don’t get to control the power—but we are tempted to try!
Suggestions for action
Fan into flame the gift in you. Grow in your experience of God and yourself. Some things are going to get burned up! But more is going to burst into a flame with a fire that burns but does not consume. Beautiful.
Where do you need renewed and refined? It does not matter whether you know everything about that question; what do you know?
Is there a place where you act with power that has not been given you? Search it out and bear the problem of needing to change direction.
What is burning in you that needs to be fanned? It may just be a spark, an inkling, a dream. Write down one thing to do and see if you can move with that spark. It may be a vision for evangelism and service; the world needs light and warmth.
All these questions imply that you are keeping a journal, aren’t they? If you don’t have one by now, get yourself a notebook. A school book full of notebook paper is fine; a moleskin might work; one of the fancier hardbound types might be perfect for you. Journaling our prayers is a good way to see what we are praying about. Our spiritual journal is more than a diary, but it does serve to help us see where we have been and celebrate our growth when we look back through it.