Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Being on Fire for the Lord

“Why am I not on fire for the Lord?” This cry of the heart makes room for introspection and spiritual growth. This is a cry that longs for more of God. But it is better to ask this question, than not realizing that we are to be on fire to serve the Lord.

Although we question our ineffectiveness in God’s kingdom, we should realize that by virtue of our belief, we are safe and secure in God’s presence, and that none can snatch us from HIS hand. We should plead with God to strengthen us, for spiritual growth is a process, not a onetime experience. This is a recap of the previous blog.

We suffer from comparisons! One reason we question our ineffectiveness, is due to the magnificent testimonies we hear of our brothers and sisters in Christ. These could be about experiencing God’s power through deliverance, healing, or other material blessings. Another reason is that we see others actively working in HIS vineyard, and our lives only seem mundane in comparison. Some of us may lead hectic lives where we would not have the time to serve God and HIS people through various ministries in church. This is fairly normal! However, it is wiser to introspect instead of succumbing to comparisons.

There are two sides to “being on fire for the Lord.”Consider the words of Chuck Colson and Nancy Pearcey, “Gordon Allport, the great psychologist of religion, drew a distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic religion. Extrinsically religious people use religion for external purposes, like the politician who attends church to gain respectability or the person who prays for purely material benefits. But intrinsically religious people serve God without ulterior motive: They pray in order to commune with HIM and understand HIS truth; they give without any utilitarian calculation.” 1

The Sermon on the Mount magnifies the heart of a man into a greater perspective in his relationship with God. Man cannot please God externally. Man’s external actions are a result of his heart’s disposition (Luke 6: 45b). Although man’s external actions are an outpouring of his internal being, some could fake an external without a truthful heart.

So there ought to be an intrinsic and an extrinsic fire. Intrinsic fire is to be on fire for the Lord from within our hearts. We are on fire when we possess: a deeper fellowship with God and a greater joy in intrinsic worship (not only inside the church, but significantly, outside the church). Extrinsic fire is in serving God and HIS people through the effective use of our spiritual gifts. (You could refer to my previous blog "Miraculously Blinded Church" for the list of spiritual gifts.) It is immaterial if one serves God from the forefront or from the background. Conventionally, extrinsic fire would manifest through:
·         Public prayers or attending prayer meetings.
·         Preaching / teaching biblical truths or attending bible studies.
·         Serving the underprivileged.
·         Defending our faith.
·         Use of our spiritual gifts.

However, those with deep intrinsic fire need not necessarily manifest an abundance of an extrinsic fire due to the complexities of their life. We need not be concerned about those whose difficult life situations deny them the privilege of serving in God’s kingdom through the church ministries, especially when their intrinsic love for God is stable and growing. There will come a time in their life when they can serve God through the local church.

In my opinion, intrinsic fire is more foundational to a successful Christian life than the extrinsic. If love for God, in our heart, decreases, then our separation from HIM increases. This situation should be overcome through prayer (and fasting) – pleading for God’s power to strengthen us to draw closer to HIM.

Conventionally, we are aware that to be on fire for the Lord is to possess:
·         …an immense desire for HIM (Psalm 73:25).
·         …an enormous love to know more of God through the Bible (Deuteronomy 6: 5-9).
·         …a sacrificial heart to obey the Lord and HIS commands (Romans 6: 16-18).
·         … a growing and an unshakeable faith and hope in HIM despite life’s situations (Romans 15: 13; Ephesians 6: 16 - ESV)
·         …a fullness of Joy (Psalm 16:11).This is not a constant joy for there will be times of pain and other responsibilities in this fallen world.
·         …a loving responsibility for our fellow brothers and sisters (Mark 12: 31).

In other words, to be on fire for the Lord is to live a life of constant worship of the living God. There could be ups (joy, without problems in life) and downs (pain) in one’s spiritual life, but the glorious truth is that we can win spiritual victories by the power of our Lord. Thus although the ‘low’ could be a momentary constant, that “low” will be perceived a ‘high,’ by the grace and power of our Lord, when we seek HIM with all our heart (cf. 1 Peter 1:6).

I submit an unconventional conclusion without corroding the conventional understanding. Looking into the church of Jesus Christ, we will observe Christians professing their greatness in the Lord. They are those who verbalize and vocalize their spiritual achievements (e.g. “25 people were baptized yesterday by me,” “I preached an anointed sermon,” “the prayer meeting I was a part of was so anointed” etc.). I do not think an anointed sermon, a powerful prayer, or an active service to the underprivileged, are sole manifestations of being on fire for the Lord.

Consider the gospels where the Lord emphasizes on the fruit the disciples ought to bear (Matthew 7:15-23; Luke 6: 43, 44). Let the passage on love also be in the backdrop of our minds (1 Corinthians 12: 31b-13). The “beatitudes” (Matthew 5: 3-12) and the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5: 22-23) are the foundations to the existential excellence of a Christian life. This is where I find the essence of being on fire for the Lord. We are on fire for the Lord if we adhere to the commentary of these sections that is found below:

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;
if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;
if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12: 3-21, NIV).


1 Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey, How Now Shall We Live? p314.

1 comment:

Raj Richard said...

A sentence has been changed in this blog: "(You could refer to my previous blog "Miraculously Blinded Church" for the list of spiritual gifts.)" The title of the previous blog has been mentioned now, which I had not mentioned earlier. I apologize if I had misled you inadvertently.