Flammable

“You sympathized with those in prison, and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions” (Hebrews 10:34).
As I write these words, the sweet, yellow ranch grass of southwestern Zimbabwe burns, fires deliberately set with the intention of driving ranchers off their land. Thousands of thoroughbred cattle are trapped and will perish in flames. In northern Zimbabwe, smoke rises to the heavens as thugs loot farms and houses. In the cool eastern highlands fruit trees, pecans, and pine forests are cut down by squatters who stack the wood on roadsides with crude “for sale” signs, seeking to profit quickly. Police protection has been denied farmers on a racial basis. Farms must be abandoned, according to government decree.
Words fail me, for I know hundreds of such farmers. I went to school with many of them. My brother-in-law, who is a Christian, will be affected. An elder in the church has lost his land. Dear friends who attended the congregation I grew up in will probably lose their farm. (As you can see, I can’t even afford to give their names in print!) Yet one Christian family contacted me today with the news that the father, after months of radiation, is cancer free, and the second of his three sons named the name of his Lord in baptism.
This world is not our home. This is a lesson these shattered people must now learn. But what a horrendous way to learn it! The only analogy I can think of is the book of Lamentations where a devastated Jeremiah watches his beloved Jerusalem go up in flames, and lives up to his nickname, the “Weeping Prophet.”
And I wonder. Are we just a little too comfortable with our place on earth? Have we sold out just a little too thoroughly to the idea that this place, this impermanent, highly flammable planet, is our home?
“But seek first his kingdom, and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).

This world is not our home. Some saints learn this lesson the hard way.

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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