Fire starters

1 John 2:7-17

Billy Joel stuffed more than one hundred historical references in his song We Didn’t Start the Fire. If you know the hit, you know there’s no context to anything. He rattles off names, places and circumstances with no explanation or insight. I’m not sure I ever liked the song all that much. But I recall listening to it to quiz myself. How many of the events did I recognize?

A lot of us can relate to the back story of the song itself. Billy Joel met a younger musician who was complaining about how bad things were in the world. The older Piano Man mentioned a few bad things he knew of growing up. But the younger man didn’t believe it was as bad as today. Joel’s point was there’s always been a fire burning. 

I recall another story of a younger soul asking an older soul why war still happens. Haven’t we learned our lessons? Well, we have and we haven’t. But we also assume every new generation hasn’t. They have to learn. So, we teach them. The scary thing is, sometimes, they make our same mistakes. 

They’d be right to sing they didn’t start the fire. Well, at least the fires that have raged already. They’ll get their chance to spark their own. Every generation does.

So, where does Christian hope rest in all that? It doesn’t sound like there’s a lot to look forward to. I remain convinced of what another song tells us: A change is gonna come! And that change will rest on the love of God. That’s why we keep talking about it. For God so loved the world, after all. 

When that message becomes stale, it’s our hearts that need reviving. And, if we’re reaching out, that message will always be new to someone. It’ll need repeating to them. Maybe that’s why a lot of our churches are struggling. We’ve let love become a topic of conversation and study more than a practice and priority.

There are fires burning today that only the love of God can extinguish. And new fires will start soon. We’ll need a generation deeply rooted in the practice and theology of the love of God to put those out as well.

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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