As many readers of this blog already know, I love the outdoors. Mostly, I love to go hiking and backpacking. If you want to get away from it all, walking through God’s beautiful creation is the way to go. At the end of a long day hiking, most hikers like to build a campfire. There’s something about sitting around a roaring fire remembering the day’s journey and talking with friends met along the way. Starting a campfire can be tricky at times though, especially if there has been rain and everything is wet. You need a dry fuel source, but once the fire is going, it burns very hot. You can use it to cook, for warmth, or simply to cast out the darkness or protect from wild animals. The problem is, a fire will eventually go out unless it is fed more fuel. Those who have tried to keep a fire going through the night know now much wood is needed to burn a hot fire for that long.
I can’t help when thinking of a fire to be reminded of Revelation chapter 3 when Jesus scolds the church in Laodicea for not being on fire for him. Starting in verse 14 he says, “These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm- neither hot nor cold- I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”
Jesus describes these Christians as being lukewarm, like a tepid cup of coffee. They are disgusting, so much so that he would spit them out rather than take them in. So if lukewarm is the middle ground, there are only two other ways to be. We could be cold, completely against God, not caring at all for his word and his love for us. Since Christians would agree that this is not an option, what else is there but to be on fire for Jesus Christ. We shouldn’t just talk about being a good Christian. Our love for Christ should burn wildly in our hearts.
What got in the way of the church members in Laodicea is the same thing that gets in our way today. Their wealth and self-satisfaction made them believe that they didn’t need a thing. Our affluence today gives us a false sense of security, a feeling that we don’t really need God or any one else’s help. Jesus could just as easily remind us today of how poor some of us have become. He would remind us that he has spiritual treasure to offer. He is already at the door simply waiting for us to knock and reignite the fire we should have for him.
But like a campfire, our fire for Jesus must be continually fed lest it go out. We can feed that fire with his word and with service for others. We can put away pride and selfish ambition and overcome ourselves and this world and receive the promise told to us in Revelation 3:21- “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.”