The Burning Bush

The following extract from Bishop Steven's Blog was directed at ordained ministers, but it seems to me to be a recipe for every Christian life.

The burning bush and the flames at Pentecost are pictures of God’s love for us and for everyone God has made. God’s love is disproportionately passionate, burning, but not overpowering or consuming the object of God’s love. This is the love which sets our hearts on fire as we read the scriptures and celebrate the sacraments but which does not consume us. This is the passion which burns with love for God’s people, which hears their cries, and brings God to answer their prayers.

Passion is one of those beautiful English words. The meaning of passion combines strong love and strong anger at injustice and suffering. There is a vital place for passion in our discipleship and in ministry. If we live with our eyes open, we will be deeply moved, often, by the suffering in the world, by injustice and by the state of the Church.

In our call to be disciples we are invited daily into a relationship with this God who loves us deeply but whose love does not overpower us or swamp our will or wipe out our personality. God is not the dominant husband or wife in whose shadow the other partner disappears. God sets us on fire but does not consume us. Christian discipleship is not about self-negation of gifts or personality but about the flourishing of each individual.

God’s grace at the burning bush is a model too for our ministry. We are to be like that with others: to build them up to be the best they can be not to use them for our glory.

Passion in discipleship and ministry needs to imitate the burning bush.

In the words of an old ACCM selection document, one of the great signs of spiritual and personal maturity in a minister is to burn but not burn up – to burn but not to be consumed. We are called to a long steady love and a long steady deep anger at injustice but held within a confident vision of the God of order, of creation, the God who has won the victory.

That is not an easy vision to articulate or live, but it is a powerful vision of God’s passion and passion in ministry.

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