During this winter season, I have enjoyed starting a fire in the fireplace each evening after work. Not only for the heat, but also for the warm orange and yellow flames that seem to dance around on, under, and around the logs. Once the fire starts, I am able to keep it going throughout the night by just adding more wood.
Several days ago, an online ZOOM meeting prevented me from adding more wood. In time, the fire I had begun died out. The fireplace grew dark. After the meeting was over, I decided not to try to start it again. However, a few hours later, the fire that had died, or at least I had thought had died, was ablaze again. It surprised me because I had just assumed that there was no life left in it. Somewhere amid the ashes there had obviously been a spark that I did not see.
During the life and ministry of Jesus, he had a way of seeing the spark in individuals that other people did not see. Over and over again in the gospels, Jesus encountered individuals who others had written off as good as dead or hopeless. Whether it was because of some sin in their lives, like the woman caught in adultery, or because of some disease such as leprosy that had left them unclean, Jesus saw beneath these ashes. Jesus knew that with God’s love these individual lives could burn brightly again. Jesus saw the possibility of new life in those that other had written off.
In our modern society, we are guilty at times of writing people off as beyond hope, helpless, worthless, and lifeless. For multiple reasons we just assume that there is really no chance for their lives to improve or be restored. With such a conclusion reached, we then just ignore them or forget about them. They are left isolated and alone in the ashes.
As Christians, we are called to see others as Jesus saw them. We have to look beyond the ashes of other’s lives and realize that no person is beyond reigniting by the love of God. God’s love is able to fan into flames the lives we often judge as being without hope. So often, a person is just a spark away from become a burning flame alive in God’s Spirit. God’s love is able to take the darkest life and bring forth new life and light to his glory. Indeed, with God’s love, it only takes a spark.