Day 19 - Challenge
Day 19 - listen here
‘I have come to set fire to the earth, and what do I want, if it is already kindled? [or: ‘how I wish it were already blazing’]. I have a baptism to be baptised with – and how great is my distress until it is accomplished. Do you think that I came to give peace on earth? No, I tell you: I came to bring division. For from now on there will be five in a single house, divided three against two and two against three; father will be divided against son, and son against father, mother against daughter, and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’
If something is not a burning issue for us, it is usually because it does not touch us. It has no impact on our lives, and we are not moved by the impact it is having on others’ lives. Whether it is price hikes, commuting chaos or climate change, our proximity to an issue – literally or emotionally – is directly proportional to our strength of feeling about it, one way or the other.
As they set out again for Jerusalem, the disciples who had just encountered the risen Jesus at Emmaus exclaimed, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us as he talked with us on the road?’ Short days before, at his trial, the Jewish leaders had complained that Jesus had been inflaming the people all over the country with his teaching, and demanded his execution. To come close to Jesus is to come close to a fire: we may be kindled into life, or get burned and recoil, but either way we will not be left unchanged. The encounter will cause a division, and we will find ourselves moved in one direction or other. The question is: do I dare get close enough to Jesus to find out which?
it’s much easier to live with you at a distance.
Up close, I wonder what you may ask of me,
and I am no saint or hero.
So I am asking you
to come close to me –
but gently, as you always do,
because I am human.
Talk with me.
Make my heart burn.
Change me, Lord.