Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

"I Came to Cast Fire" (Luke 12:49)

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Kindled Love

Moses, in the Old Testament, looked from the palace of Pharaoh, where he was, and seeing how his brothers were suffering shame, tyranny, and slavery, was deeply moved in his heart . He had one of two options before him: either to try to offer assistance to his brothers from behind the scenes in the Kings palace while still enjoying personal freedom and the easy luxurious life of comfort; or to leave the palace and be one with the slaves in order to liberate them. It was this second but harder option that ignited Moses heart with love for his kindred and readiness to be one with them.

Likewise our Lord Jesus Christ, seeing mankind in the bondage of sin with no way out, was moved for our sake. He abandoned His glory to become a slave among the slaves and partook not only of our human flesh and blood, but also of our lawlessness and misery. In this manner our Lord Jesus Christ was able to take upon Himself the responsibility not from behind the scene, from the pinnacle of the heavens, beyond the visible, but from the platform of painful reality as a partner, a sufferer, and a bearer of injustice and offence.

Hence God reduced Himself to the level of man and entered his orbit of pain and grief, while still carrying in His human nature the secret of His strength, the holiness of His deity, and the power of His redemption. .

This is the pivot and essence of Christian freedom. For the liberty that a Christian receives is not a gift given by our Lord Jesus Christ in the same manner as any master-slave liberation, but it is the fruit of our Lord Jesus Christs enduring labor, sweat, pain, tears, and blood. It is not a liberty achieved by prayers and supplication to the Father either, but a liberty procured by the wounds of the cross and the sting of death. Thus is Christianity established not on principals and sayings; but on our Lord Jesus Christ Himself who, through the fire-kindled love for humanity became a slave, and by his slavery He liberated the enslaved, paying the price on His Cross.

This blood purchased kindled fire is the endowment that our Lord Jesus Christ entrusted the earth with. "I came to cast fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled" (Luke 12:49). It is the secret of His incarnation, suffering, and crucifixion. It is also the secret behind Christianity and the reason for its being alive and kindled over the ages.

Does kindled Love Still Exist?

Is the love that took our Lord Jesus Christ to the cross for our sake and which He has launched on earth still alive? This is a question that poses itself often as we watch Love grow cold because of sin. "And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold" (Mathew 24:12).

By default, Christianity does not know and cannot tolerate cold love. It becomes suffocated and suffers death in the midst of cold dead hearts. Christianity asserts that "the children of God are manifest and the children of this world are manifest too." Therefore either a Christian accepts to be kindled with the fire of love thus becoming a son of God or refuses to be touched by that fire and henceforth prove their lack of faith and enmity to God. The formula speaks loud and clear. For "everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love" (1 John 4:7-8).

More often than not Satan deceives us into living with a heart divided between love and hate; Part of the time doing works of enmity and the rest of the time supposedly doing works of love. Such a heart has not been kindled with true love. Just as the love of God, which stands in the mystery of our Lord Jesus Christ and His cross, cannot coexist with hatred, it follows that whoever bears this mystery does not stop doing our Lord Jesus Christs deeds. That is what thrills Gods heart: to see fiery sparkles lighting the dark face of the earth.

In the apostolic era, the church burned with the fire of our Lord Jesus Christ. That is why persecution was not able to quench the fire that existed in the laymens hearts. On the contrary it caused them to scatter just like fire sparkles all over the world spreading the Word of the Gospel. As for the apostles, they remained in Jerusalem as central torches ready to burn to death to enlighten the world. And what about the martyrs who lived in the catacombs? Their hearts continued to burn with that same Love for their Lord Jesus Christ preferring the darkness of the catacombs over living luxuriously among the rulers and principals who wanted them to deny that fire of love preserving their faithfulness to the One who loved them first and whom they loved in return.

Where Does the Kindling Start?

The fire that kindles our love should come from within us. Love gets ignited with the fire of self denial, rejection of ones desires, and the willful submission to the will of God "letting the measuring lines" (Psalm 16:6) to fall on us for total consecration, total submission, focusing on no one but the great Lover, Lord Jesus Christ who daily stands knocking on the doors of our hearts wanting to enter, have supper and find lodging.. Once He enters, He kindles His Godly fire which is the cause of the spread of Christianity on earth, the power of evangelism, the sustenance of pastoral care, and the secret of forbearance for the sake of the kingdom of God.

St. Makarious, the Great, reiterated that what had made the three young men bear the fire inside the furnace was the internal Godly fire primarily burning within their hearts. That fire was greater than the external one; thus defeating it and annihilating its power. This was the same mystery with which the martyrs had defeated every obstacle intended to separate them from the One Whom they had so loved. His mighty sparkle was hidden in their hearts.

What is the nature of kindled Love?

  • Unity: "by this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35). That is how our Lord Jesus Christ defined the nature and characteristics of His fiery love which he has imparted to His followers. It is characterized by its unity and oneness in nature. Whosoever gets touched by this love will proceed to impart it to all creatures indiscriminately. Such a kindled heart will not differentiate between a sinner and a righteous nor a worthy and an unworthy; as he knows that it is not for him to judge. Rather, he will live giving all his life for the brethren and the non brethren alike. The biggest mistake Christians can ever fall in is confinement of love, narrowness of heart, favoritism and compromised, partial love. Any service characterized by such traits is not from our Lord Jesus Christ. For our Lord Jesus Christ did not teach love like that. He, instead, lived it to the maximum offering Himself as a sin offering by dying on the cross. "Greater love has no one than this, to lay down ones life for his friends" (John 15:13). Our Lord Jesus Christ did not lay Himself only for His beloved, but for the whole world. In the same manner Divine love is not supposed to be only among the believers who love the truth but also for the sinners and the wicked. The love of our Lord Jesus Christ does not unify objectives, purposes nor benefits but hearts, subjecting them totally to the will of God and the leadership of the Holy Spirit Who girds them and carries them where they do not wish (John 21:18).

  • Strength: the power of the church does not reside in the number of hearts nor in their wisdom or strength; Instead it is generated from that strong fiery blood-bought love that melts hearts together to the point where they become so united and diffused by the strength of that fire until they are bound together in unbroken oneness. Such oneness becomes manifest in the way church members treat each other equally recognizing the weak and the strong, accepting the repenting sinner and the righteous, straightening the unjust and relieving the oppressed, welcoming the lovers of truth and admonishing the detester thereof.

  • Purity: the eye of kindled love is as pure as the eyes of God. It covers all the shortcomings of people and does not go after sins nor lies. It does not judge, nor condemn but suffers long and is kind. It blesses, forgives, and loves strongly from a pure heart. It loves the weak and moans and groans for the sinners. It is patient over the haughty and weeps for the fugitives.
Is Kindled Love Attainable?

Kindled love cannot be taught. Our Lord Jesus Christ did not teach it. Instead, He exemplified it, lived it and died for it.

My beloved, Let us not waste our time blaming each other for the lack of kindled love. Rather, let us hurry and ask our heavenly Father to grant us more and more of this kindled love for ourselves and for every one else.

We thus beseech the One who has sent His fire to the earth to kindle it in us so that we may become ready to forget ourselves and start to love everyone fervently and indiscriminately just as He has loved us first and foremost.

Glory be to God, Amen.

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