A Blog by Jennifer Aulthouse

A heart for those who want more of God. A desperate plea for those who don't.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

We're Not Called to be the Cayenne Pepper of the Earth

There’s a room I try to avoid. Its content scares me because I’m not quite sure what to do with what’s in there, and I can’t always make heads or tails of its purpose.

Within resides a creature. From what I can observe, she appears slightly different to each person who sees her. There’s life-breathing beauty in the creature. She has the capability to create something pure and simple and present it in a way that beckons others to come near and experience the warmth and promise of what has come forth from within.

But if the creature becomes impassioned by what presents itself as a threat, something else within unleashes a fire that can ferociously burn, even devour, whatever it is that appears as a threat - whether it’s really a threat or not. A roar thunders and the flame ignites, and before I can get a handle on what’s happening, damage has usually been done, even if it’s just that the creature has hurt herself by allowing the ignition. It’s beyond my control to even presume to know how to rein in the creature’s passion. It’s beyond my understanding whether that passion even should be tamed.

Then I decide that it’s just not worth it to let the creature ever be seen, and the door closes on the room, and I peacefully tend to the rest of the house, until I begin to long for the beauty, truth, and warmth that the creature can so wonderfully provide and has been designed to give. So I am perplexed as to how to let the creature be free to offer all that she can and yet restrict the destructive fire......and even more greatly perplexed as I realize that I’m not even sure the fire is meant to be restricted.

For me, two of the scariest scripture passages are Matt 7:1-2 (“Do not judge or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you”) and Matt 28:19-20 (“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”). I absolutely freeze in my tracks when I read the first passage. And I can’t stop moving forward with urgency when I read the second, grasping that, yes, if we are to tell of His love and forgiveness and teach obedience and the things we’ve been commanded of, more than likely that means something at least appearing as judgment will emerge when we live out in word and deed what we believe those things are. It feels like an infinite gulf exists between the two, and as one who desperately wants to find that perfect way of relating with others as Jesus did, this gulf seems as if it threatens to swallow me into either apathetic irrelevance or misguided devastation in regards to relating.

Sometimes the call to love people without judgment feels like performing surgery with mouse-sized instruments. We sense a pressure that the procedure must be carried out so delicately in order for the diseased organ to be capable of receiving the healing and restoration it desperately needs to survive, and it seems impossible to figure out how to correctly use the tools we’ve been given because they feel so clumsy in our hands. And then maybe we step back and wonder if we’re really supposed to be even trying to perform surgery – clearly, we’re not qualified for all of this. Or perhaps we assume we are called to be the surgeon because we’ve studied spiritual “medicine” in the Book and we instead make the patient even sicker because underneath the head knowledge we have no clue what we’re doing. Who’s in charge of this hospital anyway? What is our role? Are we like the paramedics, going out only when called that there’s a spiritual emergency, and then keeping the sick and injured alive enough until we get them into the OR and can pass them off as The Surgeon’s problem? That doesn’t sound right either. Are we desk clerks, answering questions and telling people to sit down and wait and then pointing them to the right room at the appropriate time? Maybe we’re just contractors, merely tasked with building the hospital, maybe a little advertising to announce its presence. People will know it’s there if they want to come in and get better. But what if they don’t even realize that they’re sick?

We’re told many times in scripture to mind our own business, tend to our own affairs, and not to judge the lives of others. We’re told many times in scripture to passionately contend for the faith, call out the sin that needs removed – always in our own lives first – and to shine light into the darkness. I have a headache.

There’s a pure, holy creature of passion inside that burns for the truth of God’s Word in this world. I don’t know how to own her. When this creature senses something is undermining that truth – in the name of truth – she is flooded with an overwhelming burden to purify. Sometimes that means with fire. And I really believe that sometimes that is absolutely as it should be, except.....it’s usually a person standing there before the creature. Being burned.

So I would rather keep that door shut, let the creature lie dormant, unable to consume anyone with her flames. Fall down into the gulf of apathetic irrelevance.

But I feel the sweet sorrow of conviction and I know it is not meant to be closed. The creature was made for a purpose and I’ve witnessed many times over the life-giving beauty and wholeness that emerges when the One who has created her is given all authority over her passion.

That I would learn how to own the fire. That I would find the bridge over the gulf.


  1. This is a very real post.What's important to remember is the one commandment that Jesus gave - and that was to love others. He never judged, he never made people feel bad abotu themselves. he simply loved them.

  2. Thanks for your comment!


  3. Even when we make the mistake of judging others, we can always ask for forgiveness and try to do better. I thank God His mercies are new everyday. I pray He will reveal things like that to me so I don't go around doing it and not realizing it. He is so good and faithful, he will let us know so we can correct ourselves. Blessings,

  4. Thanks for your comment!