Monday, November 5, 2012

Standing Outside the Fire.

I've got to be honest with you.  I have been a pew sitter most of my life.  That means that I have been content to just go to church on Sunday morning and let the preacher give me a message.  I'll shake his hand on the way out the door and tell him what a good message he delivered that day.  I would come back the next Sunday and do the same.  All the while, not remembering what the preacher had said the Sunday before.  

Am I saved, you bet.  I know that I have invited Jesus into my heart.  So why do I act like I do?  I can tell you that I have tried to get involved in church before and have always been hurt and astonished by the way that Christians treat each other.  And there is nothing more harmful to a church than church gossip.  Innuendo, snide remarks and people just insisting that nothing ever changes in a church lead to revolving door members. 

We are all different.  God made us that way.  We all have different talents.  We all have different life experiences,  Church members can be the most hurtful people because they hurt their own.  Lots of times we treat visitors better than we do our own members.  Now you may be asking, how I can write like this.  I confess, I have been guilty of it all.  I am not pointing  a finger at anyone.  You know in your heart if you are guilty.

So what is different this time?  Why do I think I have changed at all and the better question is why should you think that I have changed?

I go back to the phrase: "standing outside the fire".   Up to this point, I never really realized that a walk with Jesus isn't going to be a walk in the park.  Remember the poem: "Footprints in the Sand".  I always thought that meant that Jesus was carrying me when bad things happened to me.  When parents died or something horrible like that.  It seem that I have missed the point of this poem altogether.  Jesus is carrying you when you walk in the fire. 

There are lots of passages that refer to swords in the Bible.  I am now 60 years old and finally understand the symbolism of the sword.  Walking with Jesus is double edged. 

By trying to do what God is telling me to do, I have experienced some of the greatest highs that I have ever known.  It's intoxicating and makes you want to do more. 

But that's where the problems start.  First of all, you start to forget that it's God performing his work using you as a vessel.  I don't deserve the credit, yet this frail human spirit is always battling me for credit.  I have to pray about this all the time.  Secondly, when you do what God has called you to do, you will be attacked.  And some of the most severe attacks come from "well meaning" Christians.

Without a doubt, the hardest part of all is being able to be strong enough to confront those Christian brothers and sisters when you feel that they are hurting others.  Again that double edged sword comes to mind.  Because it's difficult to confront another Christian without being judgemental.  And it's the most painful thing to do.  I know that I don't want to do it and I know that the Christians that I confront will not only be hurt but probably resentful.  We are humans and that is a normal human reaction. 

We will say hurtful things and make rash decisions.  This is why churches split and great foundations fail.  We just don't love each other enough to overcome our own shortcomings.  And then, God gets the blame. 

Think of it another way, how many people will tell you that they don't go to church because the church is full of hypocrites.  We have all heard this.  And it's true.  But the real truth is that we are all hypocrites and we all sin. 

The preacher preached last Sunday about faith. Jesus taught us about faith and love.  We need to concentrate on that instead of the petty things that we deal with in everyday life.

So what does "Standing Outside the Fire" mean to you?  To me it means that I can no longer sit on the sidelines or sit in the pew and watch Sermon Sundays go by.  I have to follow what Jesus tells me to do.  I don't have a choice.  If I want the blessings, I have to be able to withstand the hard times too.  I have to firm and unwavering in my life. 

Will I fail?  Most certainly.  But it is as these times that I know that Jesus will be carrying me.  I just encourage you to search your soul and do whatever it is that the Lord is leading you too. 

I like one of the lines in the song:  "Life is not tried, it is merely survived, if you are standing outside the fire".   Listen to the song and enjoy.  Think about your walk with the Lord.  Are you going to stand outside the fire and sit in that pew or get up and follow Jesus and like Daniel, get in the fire... The choice is yours..