In the Bible, God’s activity among us is sometimes compared to fire. What does the fiery Holy Spirit do? He purifies, refines, ignites, makes alive, imparts passion and zeal for God, and his coming is accompanied by spiritual gifts and boldness. John the Baptist said that Jesus would “baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matt 3:11).
The Holy Spirit baptizes all of us with fire. He brings his fiery love into our midst as we worship. He dwells in us as a burning presence. When two disciples broke bread with the risen Jesus, they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32). Each one of us is individually a temple of the Holy Spirit, and the collective body of Christ is another kind of temple of the Holy Spirit. We are exposed to a larger, more powerful fire when we gather as the church.
How do we steward the presence of the Holy Spirit in all arenas of life?
1. We respond to him as individuals. Each of us is joined to him. “He (or she) who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him” (1 Cor 6:17). His presence in us is a flame that is never extinguished. We pray and listen to him everyday, and we do our best to respond to his words and his voice inside us in all kinds of practical ways.
2. We “keep the home fires burning.” I picture a family hearth in a simple, medieval home. The fire had many purposes. It kept the house warm, provided hot water for cleaning, and was used to cook food. It was also the gathering place for family fellowship. Most of us don’t gather around literal fires in our homes, but we gather in response to the love-fire of the Holy Spirit in all of us. We have to be attentive to the “home fire,” continuing to stoke it with fresh fuel to keep the fire alive. For us, this means fanning the flame of God’s love in our own hearts and being attentive to relationships in our family and with our roommates.
3. We welcome the fire of the Holy Spirit in our church gatherings. Much of the time, the Holy Spirit’s effect on us is simply to warm our hearts towards him and towards one another. At other times, he reveals the holiness of his fire, leading us to repentance (Hebrews 4:28-29). We give place to the unpredictable move of the Holy Spirit, allowing his fire to kindle and ignite us however he wants.
4. We gather with Christians from all kinds of other churches. Throughout church history we see seasons of God’s fiery visitation, which draws together people from all kinds of churches, and those who aren’t churchgoers. The fire spreads into the community, into every neighborhood and coffee shop where people will welcome his burning love. The fiery love of God propels us to help and serve people everywhere.
Will we let him burn in us?