Fire is an amazing phenomenon.
Aspects such as the hypnotic dance he performs atop a candle, to the unbearable heat emanating from a forest caught in his blazing fury. This is a great tool, but it is also so hard to control because no matter what you do, it will spread or it will die.
Imagine how much harder camping would be if when you lit an ember it could not even inspire flame in a crisp dry leaf. Fire would be completely and entirely useless. How amazing would it be if we were as unrelenting as a simple flame? Something we see so often, yet we nevertheless seem to ignore such a simple example of the passion we should be displaying.
We are the embers in our dry, spiritually unresponsive schools or churches who seem to so often fail to pass on the passion we were so graciously given. We focus so internally, as though before we reach other people we need to be worthy, but that was never the point. We look back on the Pharisees and laugh because they missed the message so badly – it almost has to be comical – but the next time you do chuckle, I want you to look at the empty pews in your very own cherished church and realize how similar the view must have looked in their precious synagogues. They were well-disciplined men. They knew what to say and how to say it, but their passion was lost – assuming they had any at all.
Sadly, the local church is in the same position that these educated men once were in themselves. We know so much about our faith, but when we see people in our schools and our churches, we are more loving of the attention of those around us than we are loving the One who made us!
We are left on earth for the very purpose of pointing others to Christ. Not that we are needed; we are asked – free of demands that can be so rightfully made, we are simply and plainly asked to do this. We are told for years as we grow to repay our debts. If our friend shares their lunch with us, whenever available, we offer them food from our own lunch. Owing the greatest debt a human can owe, why do we not try to fulfill even the most whimsical wishes of the one we owe?
Let me ask you – when was the last time you sought to inspire a Biblical focus in someone around you? Now let me tell you that it is not a question I would be proud to answer. We come up with so many excuses. “I do not know how to disciple.” I have told myself this many times, but there really is only one way to learn. “My life is too busy.” I cannot even count a number of times I have said this to myself, but if I am really honest with myself, it always means I need to change my priorities.
We will never be ready for the things we are called to do. Our jobs do not even wait for us to be ready enough. We should be counseling the brothers and sisters around us as soon as they need it, not when we are ready to help. We are made to need God and so it does not actually matter whether or not we are capable of inspiring a Christ-centered focus in others or even ourselves – but that was never the point. We were never supposed to be able to do something like that on our own, we are supposed to rely on God.
“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” – Philippians 3:7-8 (KJV)
Paul knew that no matter what he did, he would never be enough on his own – the man who went through prisons and swarms of men who wanted him dead, who traveled across the known world sharing about God – he knew all of it amounted to nothing compared to what he needed to be for heaven. Paul inspires men and women across the world even now, but not because he was good at what he did, not because he was ready – it was because he knew God was the only one who could do it at all.