There’s something quite bothersome about the imagery being passed along in churches of a piece of coal catching fire. It’s supposed to symbolize a Christian catching fire for God and as it goes along and touches others, it passes on the fire it once caught from the furnace. And so on and so on.
The problem with that is probably what is happening in churches today. There’s someone on fire or very passionate about God. This believer seems to be full of joy and has everything going for him, so a spectator sees that and says I want that same thing (the joy, the passion and all the blessings) and most of the time that’s all that happens.
We have believers enjoying the benefits and comforts of living a church life – catching the fire for someone, without actually really having that someone in our hearts (just the fire or passion). Is that even possible?
Look at Paul when he was still Saul. He had this passion for God thinking, he was doing things for His name’s sake by conducting massacres on Christians. Think of it as someone being a fan of a great composer like Mozart. He has the whole collection and listens to his works 24/7. He maybe even read Mozart’s biography and knows everything about him, yet you would never say they were friends nor would you even dare say they were acquainted, because of that unidirectional relationship.
“Then you will begin to say,
‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets’;
and He will say,
‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from;
DEPART FROM ME, ALL YOU EVILDOERS.’
(Luke 13:26-27 NASB)
You see, it’s really not enough to believe in God (Jam. 2:19) nor is it enough to say you have a burning passion for Him (Php 3:6) and therefore do things for Him or in His name. Unless you truly know Him and God knows you intimately, you aren’t really experiencing the fullness of God in your life.
“I was circumcised when I was eight days old.
I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—
a real Hebrew if there ever was one!
I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law.
I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church.
And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault.
I once thought these things were valuable,
but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.
Yes, everything else is worthless
when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
For His sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage,
so that I could gain Christ and become one with Him.
I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law;
rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ.
For God’s way of making us right with Himself depends on faith.”
Paul in Philippians 3:5-9 (NLT)