You’ve probably experienced ministry gatherings that have significant spiritual depth to them.
Deep conversations around a campfire.
You sense God’s presence. People are growing in their passion for God. It’s deep and real.
We’ve also been at all of those same gatherings and they were okay, but seem somewhat insignificant spiritually.
According to A.W. Tozer in the preface to his well known “The Pursuit of God,” many or even most people don’t seem to notice when that depth of God’s presence is missing.
He uses this illustration:
“Current evangelicalism has laid the altar and divided the sacrifice into parts, but now seems satisfied to count the stones and rearrange the pieces with never a care that there is not a sign of fire upon the top of lofty Carmel. But God be thanked that there are a few who care. They are those who, while they love the altar and delight in the sacrifice, are yet unable to reconcile themselves to the continued absence of fire. They desire God above all. They are athirst to taste for themselves the “piercing sweetness” of the love of Christ about Whom all the holy prophets did write and the psalmists did sing.”
This book was written in 1948, but ‘current evangelicalism’ seems to remain in a similar place.
We most often seem quite content with our ministry functions – services and meetings and ministries and outreaches – whether or not these things produce real fruit of spiritual depth in our lives.
Tozer uses the scene of Elijah on Mt. Carmel as he squares off against the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18.
Elijah took his time arranging the stones and the wood upon them to be an alter to the Lord there.
But what he was after is the fire of the Lord that showed the reality of his presence and power.
Is Tozer right?
Are we satisfied without the fire?
I believe that on the whole we are, sadly.
But are you?
Are you and I among those few who do love the ministry, but who also truly long for the fire?
Are we unable to reconcile ourselves with the continued absence of the fire of God’s presence?
Our honest answer to that question…
…says much about us.
And it probably says a lot about what God will – or will not do – in our lives and ministries.