Tag Archives: spiritual formation

Our God Is A Consuming Fire

Photo found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ottoman42/455242/

fire

With Advent, the December synchroblog, Christmas decorations and the approach of the Winter Solstice I have been thinking a lot about light lately. Between thinking about light and using Amy Carmichael’s poem “Make Me Thy Fuel” as an Advent Prayer I began to think about fire and that reminded me of Hebrews 12:29 which says “Our God is a consuming fire.” Through all of this thinking and pondering and praying I stumbled across a great article written by Frederica Mathewes-Green that was published on belief.net back in 2006 called Transfiguration. It was so good I wanted to share it with you. 

You really have to read the whole article  but here are a few excerpts:

“But there is something about light that most previous generations would have known, that doesn’t occur to us today. We think of light as something you get with the flip of a switch. But before a hundred years ago, light always meant fire. Whether it was the flame of a candle, an oil lamp, a campfire, or the blazing noonday sun, light was always accompanied by fire. And fire, everyone knew, must be respected. That’s one of the lessons learned from earliest childhood. Fire is powerful and dangerous. It does not compromise. In any confrontation, it is the person who will be changed by fire, and not the other way round. As Hebrews 12:29 says, “Our God is a consuming fire.” Yet this consuming fire was something God’s people yearned for. In some mysterious way, light means life. John tells us, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). Jesus says, “I am the Life” (John 11:25), and also “I am the Light” (John 8:12). Light is life: we live in light, and couldn’t live without it. In some sense, we live on light. It is light-energy that plants consume in photosynthesis–an everyday miracle as mysterious as life itself. When we eat plants, or eat the animals that eat plants, we feed secondhand on light. Light is converted into life, literally, with every bite we eat.”


“Through prayer, fasting, and honoring others above self, we gradually clear away everything in us that will not catch fire. We are made to catch fire. We are like lumps of coal, dusty and inert, and possess little to be proud of. But we have one talent: we can burn. You could say that it is our destiny to burn. He made us that way, because he intended for his blazing light to fill us. When this happens, “your whole body will be full of light” (Matthew 6:22).”

“On the far side of everything–the Last Supper, the campfire denial, the Resurrection, and the Pentecost outpouring–Peter tries in a letter to make sense of what happened on Mt. Tabor that day. Peter saw God’s glory, and he knows it is for us. He says that God’s divine power calls us “to his own glory.” Through his promises we may “become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:3-4). “Partakers of the divine nature.” The life that is in Christ will be in us. In Western Christianity, we tend to take Scriptures like this metaphorically. When St. Paul refers to life “in Christ” some 140 times, we expect he means a life that looks like Christ’s. We try to imitate our Lord, and sing of following him and seeking his will. We ask “What would Jesus do?” We hope to behave ethically and fairly in this life, and after death take up citizenship in heaven. But it appears that Peter had learned to anticipate something more radical and more intimate: true oneness with Christ and personal transfiguration. We partake of, consume, the light and the life of Christ. We receive, not mere intellectual knowledge of God, but illumination.”