Fires are raging on the West Coast of the US. Family and friends are posting images of eerily lit orange streets. In recent years there have been fires in Australia, Europe and Africa. Some of this is nature’s way of clearing out years of underbrush or propagating a species that needs fire to explode into new life. Some of it is of human making, like the fire set off at a party. Some say climate change is the cause—too much human intervention—and others claim there was not enough management of the environment. (For the record, I do not attribute God’s judgement to acts of nature.)
There are many perspectives… and the fires burn. Weeds and brush are burning, debris is turning into ash. Your heart stops, however, when you see old growth redwoods, hundreds of years old, going up in flames and family homes gutted by the blaze. In some cases a large percentage of towns has been decimated.
As I was reflecting this morning on where we are in the world I was reminded of the fact that there is a less seen fire raging in society seeking to scorch the foundations of nations and change the landscape for generations to come. Some of the changes are getting to things that should have been tossed out long ago, burned on the bonfire of human progress. Others are gutting multi-generational structures built at great cost to our forefathers. It is our job to discern that which is a good burning and that which is destroying the structure of society. One way to think about this is through the lens of scripture where we see people on the wrong side and the right side of situations.
Exodus chapter 14 records a dramatic event in history:
19 Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, 20 coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.
The battle between good and evil is nothing new. Jesus gave his positioning statement and value proposition succinctly: “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. I have come that you may have life abundantly.” A fire in a forest is obvious; the fires raging in society are less obvious but more important.
Lot is an interesting case study. He chose what looked good economically, and certainly it was culturally “progressive” – perhaps even cool. Yet he found himself in need of rescue from a fire. When we call evil good, and good evil then we are in trouble. Isaiah, a famous prophet, said:
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.
The foundational truths on which society has been built are under siege. For decades society has been calling evil good and good evil. This dries out the timbers of society making us susceptible to the fire storms of cultural change. There will be fires; our responsibility is to be on the right side of the fire, letting the rubbish burn and the righteous stand firm.
Blog Image Credit: Joachim Krueger