Several years ago Ros and I travelled across British Columbia by train. The trip was nearly cancelled due to catastrophic forest fires. We realised how catastrophic when we reached the remains of the town of Barrier. Only a week before Barrier had been a flourishing community. Our train crawled through smoking ruin. Row after row of stone chimneys, charred and tombstone like, marked where street after street of wooden houses had been obliterated.
Nobody had prepared. Your house seems so certain. Very many had no insurance. We heard the town's Baptist minister speak that night: "last week everyone had a house and a job. Now nobody has a job and most don't have a house."
The most striking characteristic of Western suburban living is the complacency with which we believe that our comfort can't be shaken. Maybe, just maybe, the credit crunch is nibbling at the edge of this deep belief. But the belief runs deep indeed. Most people simply cannot conceive of a judgement coming on their lives and hopes, like the Barrier fire, consuming, shaking, devouring. They are safe in their houses. They wish not to hear the cries of the few outside who can see the approach of the flames, towering over houses, engulfing lives with horrible speed.
Love demands evangelism. Compassion insists that we bang on the windows and drag people away from the flames. Knowledge of the truth compels us to insist with everyone who will hear and with every organ of publicity at our disposal that there IS a fire that is inextinguishable and inescapable.
We are not playing games. The Coming Day insists that we invest things of eternal value in the lives of disciples, building with durable, precious materials. Houses built of wood and stubble look good, but not when the fire comes.