Tuesday
Aug252009

I Got Burned

Note to self: Before pouring a cup of coffee, make sure the lid is properly screwed onto the carafe. Otherwise, ouch!

Were I a time traveler, I could go back and stick this little memo on the Cuisinart Coffee Maker and not end up with a badly burned left hand, coffee-stained pants and shirt and a mess to clean up in the kitchen. As it stands, time clearly wounds all heels and we’ll see if it also heals this wound.

The pain is searing and my ice has all melted. What I would do if someone would place just a drop of cool water upon my burn. This is starting to sound vaguely familiar.

We’ve all been burned. Whether by the sun, a hot slice of pizza or a decaffeinated mishap, everyone eventually gains the object lesson that is a burn. In the New Testament, Jesus used burning – the smoldering Gehenna garbage dump outside of Jerusalem – as an illustration of the eternal penalty for rejecting grace. He described that condemnation as outer darkness and its soundtrack as wailing cries and gnashing teeth (Matthew 8:12). 

On one occasion, he even told the story of a rich man (sometimes called Dives by Latin tradition) and a poor named Lazarus who lived very different lives and then met with very different fates after death (see Luke 16:19-31). Their lots were reversed and Lazarus was comforted in the bosom of Abraham in Paradise as he awaited the resurrection to Heaven. The rich man, on the other hand, was permanently bankrupted, subjected to painful torment and the knowledge that Lazarus was comfortable on the other side of a great fixed gulf. He pleaded, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame” (Luke 16:24).

The pain has not yet faded from my left hand, nor has it ever receded from the body of this formerly rich man. He got burned and the consequences were eternal (see Matthew 25:46).

People openly scoff, wondering how a merciful God could ever punish his creatures this way, but truly, everyone who enters Hell has chosen it for himself. They choose not to know God – to become his children – or not to obey the gospel – perhaps being blinded by the faith-only creeds (see Second Thessalonians 1:7-8). Some are warped and sinful, being self-condemned (see Titus 3:11), while others are distracted by the cares and esteem of this world to the degree that they never find time for righteousness and worship. They’re lost – not because God is not graceful, but because they never apprehended his grace, waiting until it was too late. 

They got burned and like my coffee adventure, they have no one to blame but themselves. Behold, now is the day of salvation!