Elijah answered the captain, “If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!” Then fire fell from heaven and consumed the captain and his men. – 2 Kings 1:10 (NIV)
Sometimes I wish the God I know was more like the one Elijah knew. Then I could call down fire from heaven to consume today’s captains of iniquity, like those who resist action on climate change and favor authoritarianism, but do not support voting rights or sensible gun safety laws.
Yes, a little holy fire would be nice every now and then.
The disciples were channeling Elijah when Jesus got a chilly reception from some Samaritans. “Lord,” the disciples asked Jesus, “do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” (Luke 9:54)
Jesus rebuked them. Calling down holy fire was all well and good for Elijah, but not for them. Jesus himself never did that. Even on the cross he forgave the people who put him there because they didn’t know what they were doing. He knew that the people who hurt him were acting out of their own woundedness.
I have a feeling Jesus would also rebuke me for wanting to summon fire. He might remind me that those who cause harm are more likely to change through compassion and forgiveness than through incineration.
The light of compassion doesn’t come as naturally to me as it did for Jesus. That’s why the heavenly fire of Pentecost is so important and necessary. It enlightens, inspires, heals, and blesses, but does not burn.
Holy Fire, when I’m lit up with fear and anger, bring down fire from heaven to incinerate my ego and leave only love behind. Come Holy Spirit!