Fire is Free

Photo by Harsha K R via Flickr (Creative Commons)

I was listening to a message by Rob Bell a few years ago and someone posed the question to him, “Why do people drive for hours to be a part of Mars Hill.” His answer was profound and simple: “People will drive from miles around to see what’s on fire.

Very true, isn’t it?

When I read the book of Acts I am sucked into the story of both the fire God started and the massive attention that fire drew wherever the Apostles traveled. Sure, there was spectacle on the day of Pentecost where God dropped tongues of fire on believers as they were indwelled with the Holy Spirit.

Yet they only grew by a few thousand that day.

By the end of Acts there were tens of thousands of believers. (Maybe more?) They had unleashed a virus of forgiveness of sins and restoration of relationship that the Roman army couldn’t stamp out. By Acts 28, what started as a small fire in Jerusalem was spreading. God had captured hearts whereas other gods and kingdoms tried to capture their bodies– and the Romans simply couldn’t shut down a virus that spread with love.

Because of the division between Luke-Acts we lose sight of the resolution of the story of Jesus’ ministry. While the credits roll and Easter is celebrated at the empty tomb, the story isn’t over!

The story is really just beginning.

It was a virus so strong that within three centuries it would topple the most powerful and dominant empire the world has ever seen.

The empty tomb is the climax. But the unleashing of God’s people by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit are the resolution.

Why did Jesus come to earth? Surely, to seek and save the lost. Surely, to make a way for salvation of all who seek him. Of course those are reasons He came to earth.

But it was also to unleash a fire through his believers that can’t be stopped.

For 2,000+ years the fire has burned as the only hope of the planet spreads. While evil has appeared from every direction over millennia the fire has spread. Even as martyrs were literally burned at the stake they passed the flames on with their love. The fire is shared from father to son, neighbor to neighbor, classmate to classmate, and homeless man to executive.

A lot of people I know are disappointed in God today. A new year has dawned and they look at the resources they have available, they scratch their heads, they look at the agenda God has laid on their heart, and they cry silently– God, there is no way I can do this with the resources I have.

Unfortunately, too many of my friends in ministry woke up this morning wondering if God has still called them to a life in ministry.

To both, I have this simple reminder from Acts: Fire is free.

The great Hope of the world flows from the pores of our weakness. While we may be depressed by a lack of resources or even a lack of a job– be encouraged the your greatest calling spreads fastest through people with no resources, no stock piles, and nothing left but a flickering flame.

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in the San Diego neighborhood of Rolando with their three children.

7 comments

  1. Adam,
    Lara and i are int he process of leaving the instututional church. We are planning to start a house church network in Metro Detroit. We will also be moving slowly away from the only way i know how to make money. We started feeling that the reason the church was struggling to grow in many places in America was the money it takes to operate. Look just at youth ministry a staff member with benefits cost over $50g add any kind of budget and purchases from places like ys and it is not easily reproducable. so we are going small, trusting that the God who is drawing millions to himslf all over the world without a huge budget can do the smae thing here.

    1. Wow, what an inspiration. I’m sure you know some folks to network with… here in the SD area T.C. Porter is a friend of mine on a very similar journey.

      That’s not just a faith step, it’s a leap!

  2. Adam,

    I hope this doesn’t sound condescending at all (you gotta love when folks start out that way)

    Your blogging and writing has seemed to improve so much over the years. I have really REALLY enjoyed reading your thoughts over the past few months. Your depth, the way you articulate, just superb.

    This article is a great reminder and challenge of the paradoxicallness of God.
    He starts the fire…He sustains the fire… He allows those to carry the fire… but we are asked to bear it and move it and show and share it. We have been doing an ACTS study with our 8th grade confirmands and it has just been eye opening and sad at times to realize just how far off the body of believers in the West have become (myself included).

    Our kids and families aren’t that interested in stiring up the world, their schools, their work places for God. It seems to many of us are willing to be ‘ok’ with being just ‘baptized from our sins’ but aren’t willing to be empowered and used by the Holy Spirit (not being selective charismatic but I think we could all agree and Francis Chan says it best that the Holy Spirit is a foreign word in our churches these days)

    I always keep coming back to Acts 5.38-39 ‘So in the presence case, I tell you, keep away from the these men and let them alone; because if this plan or this undertaking is of human origin it WILL FAIL. But if it is of God you WILL NOT be able to overthrow them — that case you may even be found fighting against God’

    Are we willing to allow our lives to be transformed by the encouragement of Comforter or discouragement by those who don’t yet understand the love that is poured out for them as children of the inheritance.

    Any ways, thanks for all you do Adam

    1. Humbled by your comment Brit. And its fun for me to know that after 6 years of blogging, someone thinks I’m still getting better.

      I think Acts is a great book to teach middle schoolers. You can stop every once and a while and say… what would the world look like if adults really took this seriously? And my favorite thing to do… have them write the 29th chapter, including themselves.

  3. My mega-church leadership seems to wrestle with the inequity between the core-givers who are faithful thru ‘thick-n-thin’ times and those who drop their kids off to youth-nite in order to have a kid-free time w/o babysitters. The backdrop of the fire consists primarily in the projects, promotions and pastoral promptings articulated in the form of ‘we-should’ do this, or that. We have 31 pastors on staff and yet, we get a letter in the mail from our Senior Pastor about how the church is struggling with the $14 Million in debts that is owed this year.

    I guess my faith-view is a bit smaller. I’m a pay-as-you-go-budget sort of believer and I liken it to Jesus who set up His Kingdom as a model for us to learn about Him and His Ways. He uses mathmatical tools to create, design and communicate His Plan through the small things. His Holy Division was seen even in Genesis 1:4
    “And God saw the light, that [it was] good: and God divided the light from the darkness.”
    This, therefore, is His Simple Division that is not based on divide-n-conquer.

    How about Ezekiel 47:22
    “It shall be that you will divide it by lot as an inheritance for yourselves, and for the strangers who dwell among you and who bear children among you. They shall be to you as native-born among the children of Israel; they shall have an inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel.”

    Seems like there was room enough in the Kingdom of Israel to include strangers, too. In the New Testament, Jesus was not interested in dividing up the things/stuff of our possessions as if he was some sort of Judge, as we read in Luke 12:13-15
    Then one from the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me. [14] But He said to him, “Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?” [15] And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”

    Jesus stayed focused on abundant Life and not about the abundance of things. In Luke 22:17 we read: Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves” It’s up to us to take, divide and share with others.

    It is up to us as believers to work out this level of division among ourselves as a testimony to His abundant Life that overcomes our natural, lower-nature covetousness. This seems to be His way of not crowding out the real fire of the LORD in our hearts. It’s not a lack of fire, it’s the ton of stuff that covers that still, small lamp found in our inner person. The key to the lamp’s sustainability is a word called, flask. In the RSV & NASB it has the word as: flask. In Strong’s G30 = aggeion – vessel, receptacle, a pail, a reservoir. Matthew 25:4 in the KJV: “But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.”

    Without a fuel source, the lamp goes out. So, what is this flask or vessel that holds the oil that can be purchased from merchants?

    1. Wow Peter, I’ve missed seeing your comments.

      Thank you for this one.

      I long for a fire that comes from congregants doing ministry in their ordinary life and a fire that doesn’t come from the pulpit alone.

  4. Adam,

    Thanks for this post man. Definitely a great challenge to me as I start this new year and prepare for a retreat with my teens called “consumed”. I seriously appreciate your help in more ways than one and hope that I did you justice and appropriate credit in my blog article. Never written a blog based on what I read in another’s but this was too challenging and convicting for me not too.

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