I love a good campfire—but do everything I can to stay upwind from the smoke. The Fire warms and comforts and even feeds us; the Smoke clouds and chokes and can even kill us.
The Fire of God is very real and very attractive to those who are not afraid to chase after His Consuming Presence!
The Smoke of a hellbent social culture and a broken American church culture is also very real, and very annoying—even dangerous.
So how do we approach the Fire without being choked by the Smoke? First by recognizing that the Fire of God is consuming and pure; the smoke comes only by the burning up of the impurities and atrocities of a fallen world!
The Fire of God is pure and healing and glorious; the smoke of fallenness is contaminated and sickening and hideous.
Daily, we are enveloped by the smoke of an angry culture, a biased media, and a church world often more enamored with pleasing the smoke than by chasing the Fire. But as Spirit-filled believers, we have been given the gift of discernment—we can exist on this planet by walking with the Lord upwind of most of the smoking mess!
In Jesus, stay upwind in the Wind who is Holy, ablaze but not consumed by a Consuming Fire…!
I share all this considering the just-completed General Conference of the United Methodist Church. There was a lot of smoke, but not much Fire. The votes went the right way, but the dysfunction and ungodly hate in the room was as toxic a smoke as you will find anywhere. To watch a once-great denomination smolder like this is heartbreaking. But at some point, the smoke overtakes the Fire, and calls those who long for the Fire of God to move upwind into a place where the Air is safe to breath, and the Fire is burning brightly apart from toxic fumes.
We will see in the coming weeks whether the smoke will bellow larger, or if repentance and reformation will lead to a greater experience of the Fire. Honestly, I am not very hopefully for the latter—the smoke-spreaders have outnumbered the Fire-seekers within the leadership of the UMC for some time in the U.S. Church. But God may just burn up a lot of chaff in a hurry...
Regardless, we must be bravely and boldly and fearlessly a congregation that seeks the Fire of God, running from the smoke-screens and smoldering rebellions of a fallen world and into the Arms of a God Who is a Consuming Fire!