The great temptation in Christianity today is to make our message so palatable to the masses that we lose the element of fire. “John answered, saying to all, ‘I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose . . . [who] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire’” (Luke 3:16).
We create services filled with candy and fluff. But that will not extend the kingdom and see Jesus glorified. People cannot come to God without the fiery work of the Holy Spirit.
I’ll never forget a personal experience with God years ago when I was new to the ministry. I was praying alone before a Tuesday evening service. At that time, the church was housed in a little rundown building, and I knew we would have fewer than ten people attending that night’s prayer meeting. I had been praying that God would draw more people to the church and increase the enthusiasm of the congregation.
As I prayed, the Holy Spirit worked. He went right to my core and seemed to say, “The main problem is not the lack of people and their spiritual immaturity. You’re the one who needs to be changed. You’re lacking in compassion for the people, and you do not love them the way I want you to. In your insecurity, you’re just trying to get through another meeting.”
Talk about fire! Talk about penetration! That wasn’t easy to hear. I ended up on my face before God. I had come to ask God to help me with the problems of all the people of the church, and instead His fire penetrated to my problem.
When the Spirit works in our lives, He keeps us away from superficial excuses and the blame games we like to play. Fire burns away the false and leads us to the truth.
Jim Cymbala began the Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson.