There is a barber shop in India where they will set your hair on fire.  On purpose, I mean.  People ask for it.  They douse your hair with fragrance to retard the smell of smoke (as if that were the main objection).  Then they blowtorch you.  The top of your head ignites.  Flames shoot up, maybe six or eight inches.  Then the barber just sits back there and combs and cuts, combs and cuts, like it’s the most normal thing in the world.

Supposedly the fire attacks split ends and dead hair follicles.  And clearly it can’t be the completely idiotic notion it appears to be, since the shop seems to be doing a good business — and, by necessary implication, not killing any customers.  Still, I can’t help wondering if a simpler, safer, less insane approach might be just as effective.

But then, sometimes we are drawn to the flashy solution.  Eat only cabbage and lose weight!  Buy a ten-acre compound in Idaho and reject all forms of government!  Ransack a grocery store for civil rights!  The louder the bang, the better we like it.

God’s objectives are rarely achieved through flash and spectacle, though.  Occasionally we find ourselves on stage, as it were, but that is generally not our doing.  We value “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2). We pray for “a tranquil and quiet life” (1 Timothy 2:2).  Those who draw attention to themselves tend to be more akin to Diotrephes than Elijah.

Obey the Lord.  Serve the brethren.  Do the work.  Watch for heaven.  It’s not flashy.  But if your objective is spiritual growth and not the praise of men (Matthew 6:1), it gets the job done. 

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