In Christ, We Stand Where It Has Already Burned
One of the favorite titles I’ve held in my life (besides “Dad”) is Volunteer Fireman. I was honored to volunteer with one of St. Tammany Parish’s finest Volunteer Fire Departments for a number of years and still like to provide spiritual care for our first responders as a Volunteer Chaplain. One night I was out with our guys for a woods fire. The fire was away from a road so our trucks couldn’t get close. The chief says, “I need to know how close that fire is. Two of you go see.” Since I hadn’t volunteered for any assignments involving burning buildings, I jumped out first and took off through the thick woods. As we approached the fire, the wind picked up and we noticed that it was coming at us fairly fast and the way we had come was too thick for us to be able to make a quick escape. We began clawing as fast as we could parallel to the fire until we found a spot that was burning low enough to jump over. The environment at that point changed from scary to eery. The ground singed and scarred, smoke rising, but we were safe. We were standing where it had already burned and the fire would not be able to burn there again. We followed the fire up to the trucks at which point it was quickly extinguished.
That night I was reminded of 1 John 2:2, “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” The word propitiation is used only here in the New Testament and it is filled with meaning for the Christian. The word means “the appeasement or averting of God’s wrath or justice.” So, Jesus, through His death on the cross, appeased, absorbed, and averted God’s wrath toward me. Because of my sin, I faced the fire of God’s judgement (see Romans 1:18, John 3:36), but in Christ I have moved over to where the fire has already burned. Jesus took my judgement, He took my sin, He took my penalty, He took my justice. In Christ, there is an eery safety. There’s been fire here, but there won’t be again.
Hebrews 9:27 says, “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” On that day of judgement, which side of the fire line will you be standing on?