Three years ago, my family was camping in North Georgia mountains for a quick getaway. We were looking forward to some time to unplug and enjoy the adventures that the mountains held, but we got hit with rain the first couple of days.
The skies finally parted on our last day, and we had an incredible time hiking Tallulah Gorge. The sun was bright, the air was crisp, and our kids were having a blast. It was truly a perfect day!
After hours on the trails we made it back to the campsite. My wife decided to check the forecast and saw that another storm front was set to come through that evening. Since we were planning to pack up camp first thing in the morning, we decided to go ahead and get the fire going to cook dinner while we tore down camp and prepared to head out that evening.
Unfortunately, our wood was wet, and patience is something that the Lord continues to develop in me. In my haste, I made the very poor decision of dousing the logs in lighter fluid to accelerate the process. Without knowing it, some had spilled onto my leg and within seconds my leg was completely on fire. I suffered second and third degree burns before we got the fire out.
Yes, it was a poor decision. A disastrous decision that could have been even worse. But that decision found its roots in the fact that I treated a very unique thing . . . a very powerful substance . . . as common. I threw the lighter fluid on as if it was water and I was invincible.
There is a story towards the beginning of the Bible, in the book of Leviticus, where two brothers do the very same thing. They had just been set-apart for the priesthood and at the end of the ceremony fire came down from Heaven and ignited their offerings.
The two brothers get so caught-up in the celebration that they began playing with this holy fire. They treated it as common and as something they arrogantly thought they could harness.
They are immediately struck down, and in Leviticus 10:10 the Lord says to their father and other brothers, “You are to distinguish between the holy and the common.”
That is such a powerful warning that still carries weight today. Black and white is often easy to determine, but we live in a world of gray. We can easily recognize the evil in front of us but often get trapped by what is just common and accepted in our world.
In John 10:10 Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.”
Life to the full isn’t religion. It isn’t rules and regulations. It is life with Jesus. And that life is available to us, but we have to choose the holy over the common. We have to choose what is uncommon.
In a world that teaches us to look out for ourselves first, we have to first look out for the needs of others. In a world that argues about truth, we have to balance it with grace. In a world that teaches us to pursue what brings happiness, we have to choose what brings life. Chasing what is common will never do that. Choose the uncommon.
Seth Hoover is the executive pastor of Momentum Christian Church, 175 North Lee Street, Forsyth. The Pastor’s Corner is sponsored by the Monroe County Ministerial Association, which meets on the second Thursday of each month at 8:30 a.m. at Christ United Methodist Church, 417 N. Frontage Road, Forsyth.