As a kid I loved throwing dried up birch bark, leaves, and pine branches in the fire. The flame would turn a blinding orange-yellow, the heat would flare up in my face, and the boring logs would be consumed from my view… for a few seconds.
And shortly after the flame quieted, there the logs would still be.
As I’ve grown older I’ve learned to appreciate the importance of a solid oak log. It doesn’t flare up like dried kindling, but it does last for a few hours. It’s an efficient burner and the coals it produces will last until the next morning; from which a new fire can be lit.
Christianity is a lot like a fire.
There are plenty of momentary joys and celebrations, but the deep seeded, persevering beauty is of greatest importance.
It is for this reason that when Jesus gave his great commission he did not say, “Go and make believers…” he said, “Go and make disciples!”
Evangelism is a strong suit for most western Christians. We have been taught to be bold in our faith with both words and actions, but we have not been taught how to be efficient, steady, or consistent. When we tell or show others who Jesus is we so often stop short of discipleship and settle for belief.
We are reaching for kindling, when the world needs oaks of righteousness.
Just yesterday I received a new book, Red-Letter Revolution, by Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo. I’m only half way through the first chapter, but Shane has made an incredible point. He says, “…our Christianity has become obsessed with what Christians believe rather than how Christians live.”
Jesus came to SHOW us how to live. He is the “author and perfecter” of our faith.
Sure, he taught a lot about theology and belief, but it was how he lived that really changed the world.
In this age of immediacy and political disparity Christians have become exceedingly whiny. Like infants that lack object permanence, when a flare up of something bad happens Christians freak out and turn to selfish instinct instead of patiently awaiting the return to shalom that God has promised.
Too many Christians are burning up quickly and floating away like ash.
We need more oaks of righteousness. We need more discipleship. We need less emphasis on right belief and more emphasis on right living. We need smaller churches and more diverse communities. These are the steps for producing coals that will light a new generation, a new fire.
Kindling has its purpose but so do slow burning logs.