There seems to be so many “anti” fruits of the Spirit in our lives and churches these days. Perhaps that is because it has been too long since we have allowed the Holy Spirit to burn in us…I dare say rage in us…to the point it consumes us completely.
Hebrews 12:4 “For our God is a consuming fire.”
This past week end I spent some time with a couple of friends getting away in pursuit of the presence of God at an impromptu retreat. All three of us find ourselves so busy with churches, ministries, families, jobs, and all of our day to day responsibilities, that it is often difficult to just let the Holy Spirit lead us where he wants to take us. I am not talking about being so cold that we cannot feel the presence of God on a daily basis. But what if the Holy Spirit had much more in store for us…things that we are missing because we can’t seem to get alone with Him for more than a few minutes of devotion each day?
Often we treat the abiding presence of God in our lives like it is an appendage used to get spiritual things accomplished. God is that tool that we use to do the heavy spiritual lifting, while all the lighter stuff we do ourselves. Yet we are told that our God is a consuming fire, not an extra muscle. The scripture doesn’t tell us that God is a pilot light to get our fire rolling, but that He consumes us.
Have you ever watched a fire race through a pile of leaves or through dry grass? It burns everything that is consumable and leaves nothing dead behind. When is the last time that God raced through my life devouring everything that was dead and needed to be cleared out? We get so busy that we dampen the fire of the Holy Spirit to the point that it only smolders in our hearts, rather than burns to the point of complete control.
Part of the problem is that much that needs to be consumed in me is still alive. The things that I so often need the fire of God to burn and devour are kept alive by my flesh. They are unburnable because I have given root and life to them. If we want God to consume us and take us to a place where we can feel his presence active in our lives like never before, then we have to let some things die.
There is no room for competition in the Kingdom of God. There is no room for dissention or division. There is no room for ambition, hypocrisy…that falseness that pervades ministry and Christianity. Yet as long as we give root to these things, as long as we keep them alive, the fire of the Holy Spirit cannot burn them out. Like wet wood they only smoke and cause damage.
In Luke we find the disciples describing a burning encounter with Jesus. “And they said to one another ‘Did not our heart burn within us while he talked with us…’” If we will cut the root and kill those things that are not pleasing to God, then they will become the fuel of renewal, the catalyst for hearts that burn for God. The fire will consume them and rage through us, causing our lives and our worlds to burn bright with Spirit of God, till our hearts cry out, “Consume us, oh fire of God!"