- Michael Sitko
"If our religion doesn't set us on fire it is because we have frozen hearts. God dwells in a flame." - E.M. Bounds
Fire! One of the greatest and most important discoveries that man ever made. Its power gave us the ability to feed ourselves, to create shelter from the elements, to power great feats of engineering and to craft some of the most magnificent inventions we've seen as the human race.
One of the most unique and fascinating characteristics about Fire is that it possesses a truly insatiable power and appetite for consuming whatever it touches. Yet it also possess, under the right conditions, the ability to purify certain other elements that we value like gold and silver. If you have enough fuel, it is nearly impossible to reach a limit to fires ability to consume and transform nearly everything it touches. There isn't much that's safe from fire.
What truly inspires me and draws me into a deeper pursuit of relationship with God though is that it is one of the only elements to which He compares Himself in seeking to give us an understanding of what He’s like. The Bible says that our God is a consuming fire, and that He makes his ministers "flames of fire.” Fire, destroys, fire cleanses, fire purifies, fire warms, fire melts, fire changes the properties of other elements, it is truly amazing.
What I find most interesting is that when the Holy Spirit came at Penetecost he didn't come in the form of a dove, as He did at Jesus’ baptism. He didn't come as an angel, he didn't come in the form of a mighty warrior in battle dress, no, He chose to come as Fire! I believe that the Lord was seeking to make a statement that would be forever imprinted on the hearts and minds of His people. He took the form of the one thing that was guaranteed that after having touched it you would never again be the same.
I believe that He was making a statement. That an encounter with Him should be like an encounter with the element of Fire, you come away from that encounter marked, and forever changed. An encounter that leaves such an impression upon you, that just like the natural element of fire, you won't settle to live without it. As we read in the book of Revelation the words of Jesus, we encounter a very different Jesus, then the one who came as the suffering servant we came to know in the gospels. Rather we encounter Him as the conquering King with eyes aflame with fire coming back to claim an inheritance, His reward, which is the people of the earth, His Fathers children and He lives with a fiery passion to see them reconciled to His Dad and rescued from the prince of darkness once and for all.
As I read the letters that Jesus wrote by the hand of the Apostle John I am moved to see this Jesus, my God, in a very different light. I see a God who intensely and passionately loves humankind and emplors and pleads with His bride to join Him in His passionate pursuit of the ones estranged and separated from Him. In Psalms 2, God the Father implores Jesus to ask Him for the Nations as His own inheritance and we know that Jesus did just that.
This same Jesus, with eyes of Fire, bids us to come to Him, to receive of His fiery love through His Spirit with the hope and desire that we would embrace those life transforming and irreversible properties that come from embracing it! However, in much the same way that the earthly element of fire has an enemy, so does the fire that dwells within His Holy ones. He has called us to be keepers of that fire, keepers of the flame and passion that indwells us.
The great minister, J.C. Ryle once said "Nothing I am sure has a tendency to quench the Fire of ones faith as does the possession of money."
The truth is, every one of us will be faced with a choice at one point or another in our journey of faith. Jesus Himself possessed that Holy Spirit of Fire that descended upon Him and then led Him out into a desert place where He learned for 40 days how to steward and stoke that fire through the place of intimacy. It was in this very place, the devil came calling, thinking he had Jesus' number and in the same way he came to Jesus he'll come looking for you, with a suitcase full of whatever he thinks it will take for you to sell out and give up tending that fire. You see, the devil believes that you have a price, in fact he believes everyone has a price. A price that'll satisfy you enough to set aside the attention and care that it takes to tend that fire that indwells.
You see, over time man has learned to harness the power and dangers that are inherent to fire so that He can enjoy the benefits of it without the risk that it poses to the things that are most precious to him. In the same way that there have been many safe alternatives created to fire that have some of the same great benefits of fire without the danger though; the enemy has his own version of fire alternatives that will leave you with a lot of the comforts of the fire but none of the risks that accompany it. It’s called a form of godliness without the power or "FIRE".
You see, although Fire is immensely useful and helpful, it also has some inherent risks that accompany it. It has a tendency, if not handled correctly and carefully, to get out of control and can become a wildfire that can consume all that you possess and hold dear. I think there are a lot of great correlations that could be made on this vein of thought when we start exploring the concept of God being a consuming fire.
Let me suffice for now to say that we cannot afford as the people of God to play it safe with His fire. We cannot afford to create safe alternatives that give us all the same benefits with none of the cost. I fear that if we do, we will end up in the end paying the wrong cost just as He warned the 7 churches they would if they failed to heed His words.
Someone once said faith is spelled R.I.S.K. I want to encourage you today if you haven't had an encounter with the Fire of God or if you haven’t allowed Him to kindle a “wild fire” in your midst, take the time to come aside and pursue the Fire that will forever transform and change you. Gods desire is to give you that encounter with Him that, just like Fire will be one that you'll never forget and will be forever marked by. "I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it was already kindled." - Jesus Christ