Friday, December 22, 2017
Mark 9:49 “For everyone will be salted with fire.”
I read this today and have been thinking about it all day. It’s one of those enigmatic, strange verses in the Bible that we don’t talk about very much, and it’s bad that we shy away from these kinds of passages. Jesus was talking about……….everyone. We will be “salted”, that is brought to a place of being made pure—-that’s what salt means when it is represented in His teachings—every time. Salt was a source of purifying a sacrifice or making smoothing “preserved”—holy. And fire represented that which removes the “dross” or the impurity that is found with something impure. So fire was used to make pure gold or silver or iron or copper. The impurity was burned away and what was left behind was the essential, pure, whole element.
One thing I have come to understand in my ministry and walk with God is His purpose and intention to send and permit suffering. We go to great lengths to avoid suffering, but even God Himself suffers, so we should not think of suffering as an unholy or inappropriate thing. Jesus suffered at calvary and prior to the crucifixion. God was grieved (i.e He suffered in heart) when He saw how evil men had become and was forced to destroy His creation with the flood.
So if I can get into my head that suffering is not a bad thing and that it does not represent God’s punishment or displeasure with me, I am able to experience peace and joy—even in suffering! C.S. Lewis put it this way, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world." Pain is essential if we would become the creatures He had imagined us to be.
If I truly aspire to become a part of His body, I must be able to accept and bear suffering. To become like Jesus I have to remind myself that His life was a series of sufferings, “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). To be conformed to Jesus requires that I accept suffering.
I often think of Job and His suffering and think: What an honor to have been considered worthy to suffer for His glory! Job himself asked, “What is man, that you make so much of him, and that you set your heart on him?” (Job 7:17). Job’s suffering surely brought him closer to God in a manner that physical blessings never could! Oh that I could be one that God could point out to the accuser and say, “Have you considered my servant Dean”?!
No sane person should ever go out and look for persecution, trouble or suffering. But what a witness to a non-believing world we can become when we accept the “salt and fire” and shine for Him! What unspeakable satisfaction is ours when we find that we have been made pure and holy by “holding up” as His process of sanctification and perfection is brought into our lives.
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