Theme for October: “It is the childlike mind that finds the Kingdom.” – Charles Fillmore
“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” What is behind the use of setting the world aflame by Jesus in the Gospel today? Keep in mind that the Bible is seen as a complete unity, the Old preparing for the New, the New ratifying the Old. When the Lord uses the image of fire, it is advantageous for us to go deeper into the meaning, purpose, and background of certain words and phrases to truly grasp all the spiritual wealth waiting for us, ripe for the picking. Here are but a few:
Exodus 3, the Burning Bush: God is truly present, “you are standing on Holy Ground.”
Ezekiel 1, a cloud of fire: God’s glory is magnificent.
2 Kings 1, fire from Heaven wiped out 50 soldiers: Power over life & death.
Matthew 25, Eternal fire is a destination for devil and demons: Hell is real & horrible.
Acts 2, tongues of fire descend on the 12: The Holy Spirit “enflames” the Church.
Revelation 21, a lake of fire and sulfur awaits the faithless: a second death.
From this small sampling of fire images from the Scriptures, we can safely determine that Jesus wants to purify and cleanse all of humanity, instill a reverent and holy fear in us (awesome approach to God) and establish His Kingdom where there will be both judgment and serious consequences to our responses, both here and now and much later.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Because of His Reign over us and remembering the dire consequences of the refusal to love, there will be division starting in one’s own family, household, and beyond. When the word ‘family’ is used in the Bible, it usually means either the clan or the extended family group. It could very easily include as many as two hundred people or as few as fifteen. Thus, Jesus is describing the essence of a true disciple as one who loves God above all else and is willing to forsake all for Him. He insists that His disciples give him the loyalty only due to God, a higher loyalty than spouse or relatives or circle of friends.
“Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth thrown in. Aim at Earth and you get neither.” C.S. Lewis