Soon we came to the ‘fire,’ which Jesus would use to burn the ‘chaff’, while gathering the wheat into the barn. She struggled a little with the thought of the chaff that is to be burned. Then the thought came to her that perhaps it meant that the fire burns the ‘sin’ inside the chaff (the person), similar to the ‘washing’ effect of the water. I interjected again and gave her my ‘take.’ I told her that it is the chaff itself that is ‘burned’ and that it is this way because that is what happens to people when they are ‘left to their own devices’ and when sin ‘takes over’ in their lives. The end result is that they become ‘corrupted’ and ‘un-usable’ like the ‘bad’ grain.
Reading further, she heard the next line in the passage about John’s encouraging the people “to change.” It ‘dawned’ on her that THIS was the message… She realized that John did not say these things to ’beat sin over the people’s heads,’ but that his message was a message of “GOOD NEWS” as the possibility of change, as Luke subsequently says…As we reach out to people, we may find ourselves taking ‘detours’ now and then and more than likely we take them frequently. But if we are patient and trust the ability of people to understand the message, we do not need to be anxious about the detours. The detours are part of the learning. I believe that for my friend and others like her, often there might be a ‘pain’ of perceived and/or experienced dissonance in their world that we must walk through first, to get where we want and need to go in the end. When we do this, I believe, we may find that our friends have the ‘ears’ to hear the message after all. Today, who is someone you can help walk through the detours of life to get where they ultimately need to be?
Theron Guild in NYC