What Gets You Fired Up?
What Gets You Fired Up?
by Dale Reeves
This is the season for bonfires. Recently we’ve had several bonfires at the firepit on church property for teenagers, families, our worship and arts ministry, and our men’s ministry. Who doesn’t love a cozy fire while roasting hot dogs and s’mores this time of year? It’s a great opportunity to hang out with friends and family, enjoy the crisp fall air, cuddled up in a sweater or blanket, while you stay late into the night, enjoying the crackling of the logs.
Can I ask you a question today? What gets you fired up? What are you passionate about? Would you say that you are on fire for God and passionate about his work in our community, nation, and our world? It has become apparent to pollsters in the country that during the past eight months of the COVID crisis, it has adversely affected the spirituality of many people in our nation. According to church growth expert Thom Rainer, “Somewhere between 20 percent and 30 percent of the members (who attended church pre-COVID) will not return to their church.” For more info, check out this link.
Some have discovered that they can “do church” in the comfort of their own home without having to get dressed, drive to the church building, and engage with others. Others will never return either in person or online. They may be part of what the apostle John wrote about in the book of Revelation. They have “left their first love” (Revelation 2:4, NASB).
Consuming vs. Consumed
John Wesley once said, “Get on fire for God and men will come and see you burn.”
The apostle Paul instructs us in Romans 12:11, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (NIV). The Greek word used here for “fervor,” zeontes, meant to boil with heat. Paul was giving us a mandate to stay on fire for the Lord no matter what the spiritual climate around us.
Some people who have left the church were part of what has been called “consumer Christianity”—one in which folks simply shop around on Sunday like it’s a virtual smorgasbord. They may no longer be able to go eat at their favorite Sunday buffet due to COVID-19 restrictions, but they have taken that approach to their Sunday worship experience. They check in at one streamed service where they really like the music, the choice of worship songs, the well-produced sound and lights that accompany the singers and musicians leading others in worship. Then, they may move on to another service where they watch a clever children’s sermon or creative student pastor, then end by listening to the teaching of a preacher they’ve never met. They like his style and his feel-good messages, and end up on Sunday feeling pretty good about themselves. It is possible to do all of this from the comfort of your home and never have to engage with other human beings, never serve others inside or outside the church, and never give financially to support the church’s ministry.
One of the things we know about fire from the Bible is that is refines us, it purifies us, it cleanses us spiritually. (See Numbers 31:23; Malachi 3:2, 3; 1 Peter 4:12). Theologian and pastor John Piper says,
“He [God] is a refiner’s fire, and that makes all the difference. A refiner’s fire does not destroy indiscriminately like a forest fire. A refiner’s fire does not consume completely like the fire of an incinerator. A refiner’s fire refines. It purifies. It melts down the bar of silver or gold, separates out the impurities that ruin its value, burns them up, and leaves the silver and gold intact. He is like a refiner’s fire.”
The author of Hebrews tells us that since God is a “consuming fire,” we must offer to him an acceptable service with reverence and awe (Hebrews 12:28, 29). In the process of being refined and purified by fire, there must always be a proper respect for the refiner’s fire, a holy fear if you will. As little children we were told to never play with fire. The passion for the things of God is not flippant. He is as serious as a well-stoked, blazing fire.
Givers vs. Takers
Another way of looking at this is by asking yourself this question: “Am I a giver or a taker?” Givers are consumed with the good things that are going on around them, they are bent on helping others and being as generous with their time and resources as they can be because they understand that everything they have (time, talents, and money) ultimately are gifts from God. They realize that they are just a manager of what God has given them to share. Takers, on the other hand, are about getting what they need, shopping when they need something, whether it is for food, clothing, an idea, a favor, a program . . . so they can satisfy their consumer appetite until they’re hungry again. It’s all about them, not about others.
Let me ask you again. What gets you fired up? Jesus made a pretty astounding statement when he said, “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49, NIV). The line was drawn in the sand. Either you’re in with Jesus, or you’re out. Following Jesus gave no margin in his day for half-hearted discipleship. In the Roman world, following Jesus could definitely lead to persecution and martyrdom. But in the case of American consumer Christianity today, we in the church have made it easy for people to straddle the fence. Just as I believe that Satan has had a field day with people’s hearts and minds in causing fear and divisiveness this year, I also believe that God is using 2020 to purify his church, the bride of Christ. He is a consuming fire.
Several years ago, the band dc Talk sang,
“I’m overtaken by the way that You deliver me, I’m transcended. . . .
Without You I’m incomplete, it’s hopeless.
You consume me, You consume me, like a burning flame running through my veins; You consume me, movin’ through me,
Anytime, anyplace, You invade my space, You consume me.”
Blazing vs. Extinguished
The apostle Paul challenges us to not quench the Holy Spirit’s fire (1 Thessalonians 5:19). So, what we can we do to make sure we are fired up and our flames are burning bright for Jesus? Let me give you three practical suggestions today.
- Stoke the Fire
In Jeremiah 23:29, God asks the question, “‘Does not my word burn like fire?’ says the Lord. ‘Is it not like a mighty hammer that smashes a rock to pieces?’” (NIV). We add logs to the flame and keep it burning by consuming spiritual nourishment on a regular basis. That is the power of the Word of God.
- Fan the Flame
There are three things you need to have a blazing fire: fuel, oxygen, and heat. Paul told his apprentice in the faith, Timothy, to “fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you” (2 Timothy 1:6, NLT). The oxygen supply for this fire are the gifts God has given you to serve others. The more you use them, the greater they are developed and the hotter your fire for Jesus becomes.
- Pass It On
Just as we pass on the fire to church members sitting next to us every Christmas Eve at our candlelight communion service, so we must pass on the fire in our hearts to others for God’s glory. A great fire can be started from just a few coal embers in a firepit. That is why we need one another.
May we be like the two men whom Jesus encountered on the road to Emmaus after his resurrection. After Jesus left them, they said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32, NLT).