To be in the world but not of the world can be challenging.  I recall this one time when I was in the world but not of it.  …One time.  Yep, it’s tough.

For most of my adult, Christ-following life I thought the life of holiness was like a wick – neatly trimmed, silent.  The wick was in the wax, but not of it.  The wick lived in meekness and humility, surrounded by the world, casting a warm glow and wafting a pleasingly aromatic scent despite the size and shape of the world pressing in around it.  The pious wick was fervently devoted to prayer – head and heart on fire in communion with God.  The wick – in the wax but not of it – accepts the call to live above the surrounding wax.  In this sense I thought of the wick as holy, set apart.  The reason for the wick’s exposure to a realm higher than the wax was to catch fire, and to avoid being snuffed out by this world.  Conveniently, the smoke trailed in the direction of Home.

But what if this image is too Thomas Kincaid-ish?  What if head and heart on fire is just as consuming as it is communing.  If only a communing fire, there is no loss.  But in consuming fires, sacrifice and death are the result.  I enjoy communing prayer.  But when was the last time we engaged in consuming prayer – prayer so fervent and hot that we were changed (rather than hoping to use prayer to change and enhance the mood of things around us)?

Perhaps it happens so subtly and slowly we forget that the wick is consumed; it sacrifices and dies.  The only way the wick can change the world is by committing to consuming prayer and devotion. 

Make no mistake: Jesus was not sentenced to a cross-death because he emitted a pious aroma.  He literally decimated, melted and sought to bring down the shape and structure of the world He was immersed in.  This was the result of his consuming life of prayer.

God’s world-changing plans have not changed.  He still calls men and women to die by living ablaze in wick-ed devotion to Christ.  They willingly choose a life of sacrifice, consumed by a burning passion for Christ. 

This call to personal holiness is not a sweet gift candle glowing on a side table.  “Church” is not a community of candles in a mall-like store, singing “This little light of mine.”  A life of holy prayer is all-consuming.  It’s a deadly fire.  And the world won’t like it.