Thursday, March 15, 2007

What needs to burn?

I've been thinking about the Jewish sacrifical system and what it has to say to my life today. There are the conclusions that are often told like, "is your all on the altar?" or "we need to give our best to God".

But one that's been sticking in my spirit is how the sacrificial system connected the temporal things with eternal things. There was a unity of things that will last and those things that will last forever.

A sacrifice was always something important to the person making the sacrifice. It was something like grain or goats, things that were needed for sustenance and survival and and even for defining status. But as they were burning, they couldn't be used for any of those. By making the sacrifice, the person showed who really provides and defines sustenance, survival and status.

So I've asked myself. What in me needs to burn? What in my theology am I relying on for survival?

And this may be an extension of the previous conversation? What in our American theology and practice needs to burn in order for us to connect more fully to the heart of God?

For me, the first thing that pops into my head is busyness, the desire to always have something to do. Doing things isn't bad. But when doing the things becomes the object...something's gotta burn.

Another is the inclination to create an "us vs. them" attitude. Yes, there are differences, but there is also sameness. What needs to burn there?

Just more thoughts and questions...

[Edit] A funny photo sent by Tim Miller of one of his professors, Dr. Stone.


Tim Miller said...

Dr. Lawson Stone has a picture of his own body sprawled out over an ancient near east altar (taken during a recent trip to Israel.) This is what needs to burn! View it here: ttp://

Kipper said...

This sounds familiar to the question my generation of seminarians asked every year during Lent: What do I need to sacrifice in order to get closer to God? Frankly, I think the question has become limited to the verbally pious. Wanna get closer to God? Go to where God is. What needs to burn? Don't worry about it; get close enough to God and that question will take care of itself. But we mustn't fall into the trap of thinking that we take care of the burning...

Josh said...

Tim, thanks for the funniness.

Kipper, are you suggesting that getting close to God removes the impurities in our lives?

I do think it is helpful in these times to do self-examination with the guidance of the Holy Spirit to find any way that is offensive to Him. But, many stop there. I think we also need to do self-examination with the Holy Spirit to find the ways that please God and ask for his grace to strengthen those and weaken the offensive.