Capsaicin for Christ (by Len Winneroski)

Unknown“I baptize you with water for repentance.  But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Matthew 3:11, NIV

I love hot sauce.  I put it on meat, eggs, pizza and even in my soup.  Do you know why hot sauce is so spicy?  The “hot” in your sauce is coming from 8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-noneamide, commonly known as capsaicin. It was first isolated as a crude extract in 1816 by Christian Friedrich Bucholz (1770-1818), and was then isolated in pure form in 1876 by John Clough Thresh (1850-1932).  Capsaicin is the active component in chili peppers and is an irritant that produces a burning sensation in any tissue that it comes into contact with.  If you are a messy wing eater like me, and have ever gotten this chemical in your eye, you know what I’m talking about!  Cold milk is most effective way to dissipate capsaicin heat.

Capsaicin is most abundant in the white pith around the seeds of plants of the genus Capsicum.  There is no capsaicin in the seeds themselves.  It is believed that these plants produce capsaicin to keep away herbivores and fungi (and to attract crazy humans).  Birds however do not have the capsaicin receptor so they can eat all the hot peppers that they want.  Birds are the primary means by which the seeds of Capsicum plants are dispersed (Red Hot bird droppings).

The “heat” in food is directly related to the amount of capsaicin that it contains. The amount of capsaicin in peppers can be measured quantitatively with instrumentation, but is most often measured by Scoville heat units (SHU).   This scale is named after the American chemist Wilbur Scoville, who developed this test in 1912.  To give you an idea of the relative “heat” in some common peppers; Jalepeno peppers have a Scoville rating of 2,500-8,000, Red Savina habaneros have a rating of 350,00-580,000, law enforcement grade pepper spray has a rating of 5,000,000-5,300,000 and pure capsaicin has a rating of 15,000,000-16,000,000.

As I was pondering these interesting facts, the thought occured to me that it would be interesting to develop a self-assessment test to rate the relative “spiritual heat” in my life.  Jesus told the church in Sardis, “I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.  Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found you deeds complete in the sight of my God.  Remember, therefore what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent.  But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.” (Revelation 3:1-3, NIV)  Am I awake or asleep at the wheel spiritually?  Am I living out my faith with Godly fire and passion, and in the knowledge that the Lord Jesus may return at any moment?  Does the church still ache for the broken hearted and have a sense of urgency for those who have not yet experienced Grace personally?

The Bible tells the church to, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt.  Test everything.  Hold on to the good.  Avoid every kind of evil.  May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.  May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-24, NIV)  So how about it?  Am I ready to pray for the Holy Spirit to make a Holy fire around me today?  Dear Lord, please help the church to wake up and arise.  Enable us to be capsaicin for Christ today through the power of your Holy Spirit.

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