In modern America, we are a nation of buttons and touch screens. We flip a switch, and cooled or heated air floods from our registers, keeping our homes at 72 degrees. We tap the glass on our phones to make a call. Even in our cars, we no longer need keys. Push-button ignition is all the rage.
Go to Africa, or rural South America, and the situation is very different. Live there, and the only way to heat our home is to gather the sticks we’ll burn for warmth. We walk along the road, the bundle of branches bound by a cord and attached to our back, on our head, or piled on a wheeled cart. Each stick is different, yet each has the same purpose: to provide heat for cooking, for warmth, and for survival.
Our Christian sticks do the same. Throughout the Bible, we find ever-branching trees of wisdom, teaching us how to live a life of humility and honor before God. We gather them, bundle them together, and use them to light the way we walk, warm us in the cold of the night, and sustain us through the trials of life.
Here are the sticks we need in our bundle. Each one will make our Christian fire burn hotter and be more enticing to the world.
Stick No. 1 says we can become like Christ:
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21.
Stick No. 2 says healing should be in our bundle:
“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” James 5:14.
Stick No. 3 says to leave our desire for money on the side of the road:
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” 1 Timothy 6:10.
Stick No. 4 says to be selective in the sticks we carry:
“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’ ” 1 Corinthians 15:33.
Stick No. 5 says submission is a vital part of our bundle:
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except [of] God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” Romans 13:1.
Stick No. 6 says forgiveness and honor are always good to collect:
“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.” Romans 12:17.
Stick No. 7 says we will win our enemies with love:
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” Luke 6:27.
Stick No. 8 says our brightest-burning stick is to live out the message of the cross to everyone we meet.
“I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them [in your hands].” John 17:15.
Just as that African homemaker or South American farmer burns each stick he or she collects, all for the purpose of making life better, so we burn the sticks of Christ to lead the world unto him. The greater our variety of sticks, the better the chance the world will want to gather beside our fire.
Jesus burns most brightly in us when he’s the only one who lives in our heart.
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