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Watching the nation burn
Pastor Kurt Wetzel
by Pastor Kurt Wetzel
September 21, 2020

Wildfires have been raging across the Northwest. Smoke from those fires has been altering the weather for a long time now in Idaho where I live. That smoke can stretch hundreds of miles to produce a perpetual haze in the sky and worsen the air quality.

Far worse than the smoke, though, is the blaze seen around so many towns—a blaze that is destroying acres of forests, homes, and even taking dozens of lives. It’s been catastrophic.

Add to that the metaphorical blaze that’s been stoked in recent months as the nation grapples with polarized views on the election, COVID policies, and racial tensions. The heat’s been turned up, and the fire is destroying at catastrophic proportions.

Most days, I can’t read the news without thinking to myself that I’m watching the nation burn. How should we feel about this? And what should we do?

Not all activity is helpful. Here are some things I see the Bible encouraging us to do that can actually make a difference when we observe physical, moral, and social destruction in our land.

  • Remember we’re not in heaven yet. One of the biblical writers tells Christians to see themselves as foreigners and exiles on this earth (1 Peter 2:11). Believers in Jesus are immigrants, merely passing through. It shouldn’t devastate God’s people to see that this world isn’t heaven. It’s not. We’re still waiting for it.
  • Know that the end is coming. The wildfires we’ve seen in recent weeks are a little picture of the much greater destruction that is still to come. When Jesus returns, he will literally set the world on fire (2 Peter 3:10-12). It will burn. Then he will start over. The end is coming, and it will be good. God will finally put an end to everything wrong and make it all right once and for all. God and his people will dwell together in perfect existence. That is something to look forward to!
  • Pray. Christians have a tendency to trash their society for its unbeliever traits, while neglecting to see the people in their communities as treasured individuals for whom God gave up his Son. God wants us to pray for America, just as he told his people to pray for a godless country after seeing Jerusalem go up in flames (Jeremiah 29:7). The people around us need our prayers. Prayers for protection. Prayers for comfort. Prayers for restoration and peace. Don’t forget to pray.
  • Witness. Most of all, people need to know Jesus, the Savior of the world. How will the people of our nation be spared of the fires that will come on judgment day? How will they know there is good news for them? How will they know that they can have it all, now and forever, as a free gift from a God who loves them? They won’t know unless someone tells them (Romans 10:14). Do the scary work of sharing your faith. Get training and practice to share comfortably the hope you have. Let the people in your life know the one thing that will make a difference when this life is over—that they have a Savior named Jesus who took their guilt away forever.

God has his ways of waking up people to hear what he has to say. Maybe watching the nation burn is one way in which he is calling the lost to listen to his voice. Maybe watching the blaze is one way in which he is leading his children to reach out in love to the people around them. Life is short. The end is coming. Let’s make sure we do what really matters.

Before we watch the world burn.