Wednesday, November 10, 2010

God as a Consuming Fire

One of the names that the Bible gives God is that of a consuming fire. See Hebrews 12:29.

The last few days this image has played through my mind. What does it really mean to be a consuming fire? I think of a forest fire that rages out of control. One that the wind whips into a fury and then it roars across plains and mountain landscapes, fueled by trees, prairie grasses and a lack of rain. One that must be beaten back aggressively or it will consume you.

But don't I want God to consume me?

I mean, don't I ultimately want for God's presence and holiness to so consume me, that when people look at me, the last thing they see is me? Instead, their first impression is one of joy or love or peace that isn't something that can be conjured up or faked. That it's a fruit that flows straight from God through me to the world?

That God will work in my life, consuming anything that is displeasing to Him. My selfishness, vanity, pride, etc. Fill in the sin of the day. That through the process I will be refined and turned into gold. That's what I long for. But I know I hold back. I think all of us do. The image of a refining fire is laced with pain and suffering.

What do you think? What holds us back from opening our lives to the consuming fire of God and truly being transformed to His image?


Timothy Fish said...

“But don't I want God to consume me?”
No, you don’t. That’s the whole point if you read Hebrew 12:19 in context as well as go back and read the verse the writer of Hebrews was paraphrasing, Deuteronomy 4:24 (see also Deuteronomy 9:3). What the writer was saying in Hebrews is since we know that our God destroys those people who stand against him, we should have an even greater spirit of fear that motivates us to serve God the way we should.
You may think I’m splitting hairs, but I think it’s like when someone shakes hand with the pastor after church and says, “Brother Pastor, you really got on my toes this morning,” when the pastor is thinking, “Brother, I wish you’d get your toes out of the way.” God will chasten us to get the bad stuff out of our lives, but he would rather he didn’t have to.

Julia M. Reffner said...

I agree that God would prefer not to chasten us. I think of it as my children get older, they need to be corrected less and less...but they still need correction. I don't think any of us will get to the point we don't need occasional correction on this side of heaven. I think for me realizing I'm like a child and so prone to stray makes me realize how close I need to stay to my master watching and listening moment by moment to avoid sin.

Besides consuming I'm reminded that God uses fire to refine us so we will be pure and able to reflect Him as pure gold shows our reflection.

Thank you for these thoughts that dovetail in my mind with my most recent women's Bible study.

Cara Putman said...

Love the comments. Thanks...the point of faith is to chase after God and let Him refine us so we never need to have anything consumed from our lives. But sometimes, God does need to burn through us to remove things from our lives that are displeasing. Hopefully, there's less and less as we continue to follow Him and grow.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

good food for thought,Cara. Thanks for sharing!


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