Mark 9:49 “[Jesus said] For everyone will be purified with fire.” (spoken by Jesus)

“EVERYONE will be purified with fire.” That means me. That means you. No one will escape.

“Everyone will be PURIFIED with fire.” Purify means (according to the Merriam-Webster Online dictionary) “to clear from material defilement or imperfection,” “to free from guilt or moral or ceremonial blemish,” and “to free from undesirable elements.”

“Everyone will be purified with FIRE.” Burning and painful, consuming, destroying. Even a small burn from touching a hot pan is painful. Even a light burn from spending too much time in the sun is painful. And then the burned area dies away. The word “fire” is often used to mean trials or ordeals.

What is Jesus teaching? That none of us will escape the process of being freed from material defilement, guilt and other undesirable elements. Wow! That sounds like a great promise, doesn’t it? I want to be freed from the gunk in my life! I want to be free from my attachment to material things. Yes, Lord!

“OK,” Jesus says. “The process for this is by burning it away with fire.” I shrink back and say, “But Lord, isn’t there another (easier) way?”

I want to escape the fire. I want to escape the trial. I want to avoid the unpleasantness and just live on Pleasant Lane in Friendly Town in the state of Prosperity. It’s the “life I want.” I bet you do too.

But God says that those undesirable elements in my life are not removed by life on Pleasant Lane. They are removed by fire. I can choose to live on Pleasant Lane, but I won’t be purified. And somehow I think that true joy doesn’t live on Pleasant Lane. It might visit occasionally to give me a taste of what I could have if I allowed Jesus to purify me.

You see, “burning” can also mean something else – it can mean passionate, as in “burning desire.” When we choose to follow Jesus and making Him our one true, burning desire, He will purify us. He will set us free from the bondage we cling to (life, the way we want it). He knows that the bondage we cling to is the very thing that keeps us from experiencing true joy. Life, the way I want it, is too self-centered and self-focused. Life the way Christ wants me to have it is freedom and courage to lay down my life and serve others. Jesus is speaking again in Mark 17:33 and says, “Whoever clings to this life will lose it, and whoever loses this life will save it.”

So what trial are you in the middle of? Rejoice, because you know it is the process Christ is using to bring freedom!

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