Last week I introduced the thought that “stirring the pot,” i.e., fanning “the inner flame God gave you,” is a process not limited to the young among us, but a required action until we die. If chefs stir the pot to create a homogenous mixture, evenly disperse temperature and alter the viscosity of a liquid (make it thicker or thinner), how can all that be applied to us? (Without taking the concept to ridiculous ends!)
One additional thought on how we Christians of the majority white race—majority at least here in the U.S.—can take steps to align our hearts and minds more closely to Jesus, to become part of a homogenous community of Christ followers. Because media is so readily available, so in our face, we have become accustomed—nay, we have become deadened—to pictures of a twelve-year-old black boy gunned down or a Middle Eastern migrant child’s body washed onto the beach. (Or more sadly, we offer “reasons” why the victim “brought it on her/himself.”) It’s time for us to put ourselves in the picture: if you’re a mother, place your child or grandchild’s name on those boys on the beach or in the street. Sit with the grief you feel. Imagine the broken mommy’s heart. If I feel no grief, it’s time to repent.
Stirring the stove pot also evenly disperses the ingredient’s temperature. What is “the inner flame God gave you”? What is the inner flame that burned within Jesus? What was the inner flame that burned in Timothy and those eleven cowering, inadequate, uneducated, miraculously transformed men (and all those women!) accompanying Jesus?
All these and thousands more through the centuries possessed a passion that drove them to love and serve their Savior by loving and serving the people around them. Living for Jesus didn’t merely mean their names were now on a church’s membership roll and attendance at “services” high on the weekly to-do list. When Jesus said, “Follow me,” radical lifestyles ensued. Fishermen left the family business. The woman selling grapes in the marketplace eagerly looked at each customer as a potential sister or brother in the faith, and she added a few more grapes to the basket. The man trimming trees in the olive grove meditated on Jesus praying in Gethsemane’s grove and gave away extra produce. Children were taught that all Christ-followers looked first at their place in God’s Kingdom, and then where they fit in the material world.
They would not stop as they obediently and joyfully oozed Jesus to the people around them. Some wrote books. Others preached in dangerous places. Some gave their money. Some bathed filthy bodies of the poor of Calcutta. Some died on the shores of an Ecuadorian river or in a Soviet labor camp. Some are called to lead corporations with others-oriented commitment even if it means more loss than profit at times. Some—then and now—bring bread and cookies to their neighbors, rock drug-wracked babies in a hospital nursery, teach English to immigrants, all believing that loving actions infiltrate—and often precede—sensitively offered gospel words.
Wherever the location, whatever the specifics, whoever the person, one simple and risky daily prayer—uttered with humility and determination—helps disperse the flame God has placed within us: “Here I am, Lord, send me.”