What does it mean to set the world on fire? It starts on the inside. It started on the inside of God, with the Holy Spirit the burning fire of love between the Father and the Son. It started on the inside of Adam and Eve. It started on the inside of the prophets and the people of God. It started on the inside of Elizabeth and Zachariah, John the Baptist, Joseph, Mary and Jesus. It starts on the inside of you and I. It’s a fire that grows in love, in service, in defense of the poor, of justice and truth. It spreads from one heart and soul to another.
The life, death and resurrection of Jesus is the passion that will make the way for the Holy Spirit to come and set the world ablaze with God’s purifying love. You can ignore it and perish or you can become part of it and it will purify and transform you without destroying you. But the one thing you cannot do is to be neutral toward it. In choosing to receive the baptism by water and fire, God will become visible in you; speak through you; make you light and warmth for others and spread the fire of faith.
Jesus desires the whole of creation to be burning with the purifying fire of God’s love. But Adam and Eve created a division between God and man and so the fire dimmed. Every person that has or will ever live, is faced with the same choice in life. To receive or reject. To become part of the fire of God’s love, or contribute to putting out the fire. Jesus knew his mission, that in order for us to be saved from being consumed by the fire of God’s judgement and be able to be one within the fire of God’s love, he would have to submit to becoming the sin offering.
Jesus is in great anguish until his ‘baptism’ is accomplished
His immersion under the flood of God’s judgement against sin, would bring into effect the hope of salvation for all. Humanity was sentenced to eternal separation from union with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Unable to sacrifice His perfect justice and holiness, the cost was necessary to be paid. But also unable to withdraw his love and mercy God could not allow everyone to be lost in eternal torment. Therefore the Father sent his only Son, and although, in his humanity Jesus experienced his suffering and death with great physical and emotional pain, he eagerly anticipated this “baptism”, this total immersion into his suffering, death and resurrection, because of love for us.
Sadly, the cross of our salvation becomes a stumbling block to some. It leads to division in the human family. The reasons for rejecting Christ are too many too name, but the result of this division is a history of man’s inhumanity to man.
Jesus comes not to ‘bring peace’ but rather ‘division’
True peace that surpasses understanding can only be experienced by those who repent and believe. Salvation is for everyone, but it is not without conditions, responsibilities and obligations. Those who refuse God’s offer of peace, those who are not for Jesus are against Him either directly or indirectly. The gospel necessarily divides people. Each of us is either found or lost. This is what it means when we say Truth causes division!
When by faith through grace we come to know that He is the eternal Son of God, we must follow Him, we must do what truth teaches, even if it leads to family division, because He is so much more worthy of our allegiance than even the closest of earthly ties.
Jesus is the manifestation of Truth, the very Word of God. He desires that the truth, that He be received and that having been baptized into this divine life, that we live it fully, a blazing fire that spreads and covers the entire world!
The Christian message is about God’s love and compassion which inspires harmony as it brings peace to individual souls, families and communities. It is meant to bring people together so that there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male or female… But it also of its nature challenges injustice, corruption, discrimination, abuse, dishonesty and all attacks on human dignity. The Gospel truth comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.
When the Church, the Body of Christ preaches and lives the Gospel, conflict is inevitable – even though in no way desired or intended.
Peace doesn't just happen; it's made.
CampusPadre is a college ministry Priest Chaplain with 30 years experience in youth and young adult ministry, who strives to let the Holy Spirit lead and challenges students to seek holiness above all.