Tony Elder

Tony Elder

For some of us our mouths start watering whenever we pass by a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop with its “hot now” sign lit up. It lets us know that some of those warm, melt-in-your mouth treats are ready and available. Recently I woke up one morning to the news that one of those long-standing bakery stores in our area had caught fire and burned overnight. I couldn’t help but wonder if the iconic “hot now” sign was turned on at the time. Obviously something in the building got too hot on that occasion.

It’s not unusual at times to hear references to the idea that people need to get “on fire” for the Lord. It’s a concept conveying that we ought to become more dedicated, passionate and enthusiastic about our relationship with the Lord and our service to Him. It stands in contrast to those who are simply going through religious motions, complacently following their rituals and traditions, and those whose love for the Lord has grown cold. It expresses the need for a personal revival, a stirring of our hearts, and a deepening of our relationship with God.

While many of us might agree with the idea of pursuing such spiritual fire in our lives, others might be hesitant to do so. They want to have some degree of a warm relationship with the Lord, but not go too far. They don’t want to become a fanatic or be labeled as an extremist. It raises the question — can we get too hot in our pursuit of God and in our relationship with Him?

Jesus affirmed that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. He insisted that we can’t love anyone, not even our own family, more than we love Him. He told His followers to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. In certain parables Jesus indicated that one’s relationship with God is worth making every effort to pursue and that nothing is more valuable. He describes it as a hidden treasure and a pearl of great price which is worth selling everything else you have in order to possess.

None of that sounds like it’s compatible with some carefully measured response out of a fear of going too far. We don’t give God a little of our love. It’s with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength. We don’t welcome Jesus in as simply one of the many parts of our life. We put Him first. We don’t see our relationship with Him as one of the things we do, but as our main pursuit. When it comes to living for the Lord, we shouldn’t just be sticking our toes in the water to test it out or settle for cautiously wading in the shallow end – we ought to be diving in.

I don’t believe we can get too “on fire” for Jesus. Certainly we can get off track if we’re not careful. If we stray from God’s Word along the way, if we let our emotions override the work of the Holy Spirit, or if we by any means let ourselves get in the way of God’s fire in our lives, it can turn into a destructive wildfire. However, if we let the Holy Spirit, God’s Word, and godly wisdom guide us, that growing fire in our lives can be a powerful force the Lord can use to provide light, life, and inspiration.

Some of us need to stop being concerned about being labeled “extreme.” Let’s go all out for Jesus. May the “hot now” sign always burn brightly in our hearts and lives.

The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at revtelder@aol.com.

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