Listen to today’s devo!

When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” (Luke 9:54)

It is extremely unfortunate that, over the past several decades, the church in America has come to be known more for condemnation and hate than for the love of Jesus. This is largely the by-product of many Christians seeking to outlaw various behaviors that the majority of Americans no longer consider wrong. Many people have interpreted, fairly or unfairly, the church’s attempts to exercise control over the masses in this way as judgment and hate.

In today’s passage, Jesus had to restrain a couple of his disciples—the sons of thunder—from responding in judgment and hate. The Samaritans had refused lodging for Jesus and his disciples on their way to Jerusalem. This rejection revealed the hate in James’ and John’s heart, as they asked Jesus for permission to call down fire from heaven to destroy the Samaritans. But that is not the way of Jesus. Jesus didn’t seek revenge. He didn’t force himself on the Samaritans. He didn’t threaten litigation. He merely led his disciples to another village where they peacefully spent the night.

Sometimes as modern-day disciples, it’s easy to get confused about what we’re really after. We can think it’s our responsibility to legislate righteousness or to put the fear of God in people. Instead, our calling is to follow in the footsteps of Jesus—showing the way but never forcing the way on another.

Show the way without seeking control over others.

Kevin R. Scott is a pastor and author of “ReCreatable: How God Heals the Brokenness of Life”. He lives with his family in middle Tennessee.

© 2022 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.