“Holy Fire, Burn away
My desire For anything
that is not of you and is of me.
I want more of you and less of me. Empty me..” – Zion’s Fire
Whether or not I realized it, I was in a fire – not of my own making, but of Gods. Why? He needed to make room. My temple was cluttered with too many voices, and too many things.
Matthew 21: 12-17
Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, ” ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.'”
The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.
“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.
“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, ” ‘From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise’?”
And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.
So how does a dirty cup, a triumphal entry and a cleared out temple tie into Matthew 23? Easy – I can talk the talk but stumble the walk. In missing the most important part, (John 3:16) I spend my time making up for lost time and hoping you don’t notice. And if you do notice, I might just set myself on fire.
Early on in my Christian walk, I wanted to fit in. More realistically, I wanted to morph into the walls and be invisible. I copied everything I saw until I looked on the outside how I really wanted to look on the inside. Right down to the shoes. If they wore it, I wore it, if they joined it, so did I. I’m not sure what I was hoping really, osmosis through copy write violations perhaps. False shame and false guilt turned me into the proverbial foot washer, hoping somehow my actions would make me as clean on the outside and everyone else seemed on the inside. I walked the “Jesus died for you, and I’m sneaking in on a borrowed halo” theology line. I talk a good line – but I don’t live it. Not when I spend my life looking grace in the face and working behind the scenes as if to say it’s not enough, twisting the fruit of repentance into groveling and penance.
I tend to set myself on fire just prove I fit in. Case in point:
I was attending a local women’s league event and at break went outside, and around the building to smoke – and hide. I had just lit my cigarette (with three other hiders like myself by the trash bin) when out walks a local pastor.
He wasn’t just any pastor – but the pastor who is over a church that we are considering joining. I wanted him to like me. I needed him to like me, because I wanted to join his church. Our pastor had taken a call out of state and we (my husband and I) were church shopping. I had (in my humble opinion) believed I’d tricked the first pastor in allowing me to stay and I needed to hone up on my costume changes to keep that going. I’m wrong on that assessment – but that’s another story.
Without thinking, I shove the pack of cigarettes in my pocket, and stick the lit one behind my back. That’s the funny thing about idols, they can breed fear, shame and dishonesty. In an instant , I communicated fear, dishonesty and distrust. The smoke billowing up over the top of my head comminicated the fact that my dress was about to catch fire. I can laugh about that today. But not then.
Lighting myself on fire, is not a new thing. It would take Christ to make an old thing like that, new. I needed a different kind of fire if he was going to have his way with me.
There is hope.
God also promises to replace those self inflicted fires with a new one -2 Timothy 1:6
“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”
Once he got me to stop setting myself on fire, and set me on fire for him through the Holy Spirt, we still had work to do.