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"Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of" Lk. 9:55

t seems our manners are very important to God, especially when we are talking about our manner of spirit.  Is it possible for some so close to Jesus to harbor such a spirit? Is it possible for those who claim to be followers of the Prince of Peace to call for fire, when what men really need is faith? Is it possible for a disciple’s ego to pull him so off course like a magnet misdirecting a compass? Is it possible for me to be so far from the Spirit of Christ and yet appear so close to Him? The answer unfortunately is, "yes."

Jews had little love for Samaritans, and Samaritans hated the Jews. It is easy to pray fire down upon our foes. It is good that God does not answer such misguided prayers. We have been called to love our enemies, not liquidate them. We have been called to offer cups of cold water and to turn the other cheek.

The church has a sad history of hating its enemies. Countless numbers have felt the "fires" of the Inquisition. Anabaptists and Huguenots alike, have been beheaded, hanged and pulled apart by agents wearing robes of the church.

Christ "rebuked" his disciples for harboring such a spirit. The Son of man, he said, came not to destroy men’s lives but to save them. There is a spirit running loose in Palestine and around the world that encourages its believers to become human bombs. Young people, who have not even begun to live are asked to die in some holy Jihad. The Spirit of Christ knows nothing of "blowing up" our enemies. "Pray for them that despitefully use you," said Jesus. For many this seems foolish, almost crazy advice. No, what is crazy is causing harm in the name of God. What is crazy is wishing more hurt and pain on any living thing. What is crazy is calling down fire from heaven, whether it is in the form of a jet liner, or God’s eternal judgment. It seems the world has gone mad.

Jesus taught his disciples to pray, "thy kingdom come, thy will be done." When we wish someone fire instead of faith, hurt instead of happiness, harm instead of harmony, we are more likely to see more of Hell than Heaven.   I think Christ would question such manners.  With half the world now burning with the fires of religious hatred, the last thing it needs is for Christians to be calling for more fire.  If there is to be fire, instead let us pray for tongues of fire that preach, not harm but hope, that comes when a broken and contrite spirit is engulfed and possessed with the Spirit of Christ. May I always mind my manners.