Fire is one of my favorite things. I love camping mostly because I get to build a fire and watch it. It is mesmerizing. It is amazing really. It is also a dangerous thing. When I was a young boy my dad and I were in the back of the property burning up some brush. It was mostly a white pile of hot embers at the time and so I threw in a new stick. My Dad was in the front of the house getting more wood and I grabed at that stick to move it again and BAM new flame burned my hand. My dad came running and got me some ice to help my hand heal. I was in a lot of pain but it could have been a lot worse. As a kid I didn’t understand the danger. I was in playing with fire.
Last week I had the privilege of sharing the staff devotion for the school teachers. I know most school devotions take the form of reading something you find meaningful to share with others. I read a text from Jude
22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. Jude 22-23 NIV
These verses remind us of the our ministry among each other. Every day my goal is to help my kids be snatched from the fire. I pray every day God uses me to snatch other kids and families from the fire. Their is no greater calling as a parent, Dad, friend or minister. This is serious business and God has called all of us to be a part of it. The Holy Spirit does the work. He changes hearts, He changes minds, we just get to be a part of it.
In the season of Christmas and the crazy times we are living remember to be merciful to those who are struggling. Be merciful to those who don’t know Jesus. Be merciful to all you meet. You just may be a part of snatching them from the fire.
Have you ever thought about why you believe and trust in Jesus? This weekend I asked my high school students this important question. They struggled to put into words the reasons why they trust in Jesus. I enjoyed that. I think of all the things I want my students to do with their faith is think. I think being a disciple of Jesus means we think. I want them to struggle with this Jesus of Nazareth, and what he said and did. I think all too often we send students out of our ministry without having them really grapple with this question of who is Jesus, and why we believe and trust in him. I wouldn’t say the students struggled with believing and trusting in Jesus. We all have doubts and struggles with Jesus, but that isn’t why they struggled to answer the question. They struggled because they never thought about it. They never had to put into words the reason for the hope they have in Him.
I think one of the most important things I do as a church worker is challenge my students to think. Too often in Christian churches and youth ministries we forget to make our students think. I think we think it is enough to just tell them the answers and then they can say them back to others, but being a follower of Jesus is questioning our leaders and other who claim to know this Jesus. Being a disciple of Jesus is that struggle with the scripture and struggle with faith in this God who cares for us. To struggle with why I believe in this Jesus. Why I trust those that saw him and heard what he said. It is part of growing up and growing in Jesus. We never fully understand. It is a lifetime of struggle and thinking but it is so important for all of us to think to wrestle with Jesus.
I didn’t want to answer yet why I trust and believe in this Jesus. They asked me but we aren’t at that point yet. This journey may take a little while because they need to struggle with it. We all need to struggle with this faith and trust in Jesus thing. So my question for you is are you struggling with your faith, and trust in Jesus? If you aren’t I would challenge you to struggle with it. I would challenge you to dive into your scripture to struggle with what Jesus said. In the struggle and thinking we grow. I want to grow and struggle and think so I may know Jesus more. I also pray the Holy Spirit guides this process as we struggle. The Holy Spirit guided those early disciples who struggled and thought and believed in Jesus and know he will be with those of us who are Jesus’ disciples today.