Day 26 Sacred Season
DAY 26. 4th July Fire on the earth: Luke 12:49-53 Pastor Andy Collins
âI have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled (Luke 12:49 NIV)
Basis of Union Paragraph 1: they acknowledge that none of them has responded to Godâs love with a full obedience; they look for a continuing renewal in which God will use their common worship, witness and service to set forth the word of salvation for all people.
As I write this, I must admit to deep hesitancy. I feel nervous writing it. Why? Well, I know what Jesus means and its implications. This passage is a wake-up call to many churches in Australia. We are encouraged to be loving, accepting, non-judgmental, full of grace and inclusive. Such qualities are noble and sorely needed in our society where so many have been ill-treated and marginalised. Church is such a nice, safe place.
But what of the situations I read about in churches beyond our borders? Just this week, I listened to a brother in Christ from Indonesia, who spoke about the brutal treatment he received at the hands of radical Muslim extremists in Java. Dragged out of his Bible College, hands bound and face covered, he found himself in the middle of a murderous crowd: âRenounce Jesus or die!â Well, he didnât renounce Jesus and he did die as a result. Twice. He had the photos to prove it. Gruesome and graphic. His head basically severed from his body. Both times he died, he speaks of going into the wonderful presence of the Lord Jesus Himself. It is a great testament to the Holy Spiritâs resurrection power that he is so alive and whole today. But I found myself wondering how I would cope under the same circumstances.
In this passage today, Jesus boldly declares that He has come to stir things up. No longer would the world be the same once He entered it. Twelve chapters into Lukeâs Gospel, we see that all around Him. Many flock to Him, but just as many are repulsed by Him. He is even at loggerheads with His own flesh and blood. Jesus has come to bring NOT peace on earth, but DIVISION. Many accept His peace, but just as many reject it. As believers in 21st Century Australia, we cannot ignore the reports we are hearing regularly from the Middle East and beyond of hundreds of our fellow believers being beheaded, hung and crucified because they wonât deny that precious Jesus is their Lord and Saviour. Will such extremism reach our shores?
We live in a time and place where as a society, we are encouraged to be all-embracing. That works well when things are going well. But we all know that more and more, the name of Jesus causes great offense. Jesus. The name means âGod Savesâ, and the Bible tells us what we are saved from. Sin. You notice that I placed those two words in bold type. Jesus and sin. But weâre not exactly bold in speaking out about them, are we? We know all too well how people get stirred up when we mention Jesus and sin, especially in the same sentence. So, in the spirit of multiculturalism and tolerance, we stay silent.
I made a decision to change that in my own life this past week. Without going into detail, I found myself trying to comfort a very disturbed woman I encountered on the street. All went well until I uttered the words âJesus loves youâ. I noticed a change all rightâ¦ a change for the worse. I then had to endure a barrage of spit, fists and foul language. Itâs no wonder people choose not to get involved. But deep inside, I felt, âWhat an honour!â May that feeling grow, and may any fear or hesitation decrease, Lord!
Offending people wasnât a good enough excuse for Jesus. He became personally involved with what was happening on planet Earth. I hear His pain as He utters those words, âI wish it were already kindledâ. Wouldnât it be great if people just accepted Godâs unconditional love? But they donât. How that continues to break His heart. Still, it didnât stop Him leaving His comfort zone. May it not be stop us from leaving ours. Even when we are offended or abused, may we continue to go, no matter the cost! Because, really, âWhat an honour!â
Prayer: Ask the Lord to give you the courage to speak to people about Him. Ask Him also to strengthen you so that you are not offended at peoplesâ reactions, but can truly understand what an honour it is to be insulted, persecuted or slandered because of your love for Jesus. Rejoice and be glad! May God bless you richly!
Pray for: Unitingworld partner – Presbyterian Church in Taiwan
Synod of New South Wales