Here in the northeast the time of year has come when you walk outside in the crisp evening and you can smell the wood fires burning to heat homes. I grew up in a home where our primary heat source was a wood burning stove. The worst thing that could happen would be the fire went out. Compounding the problem would be the days when there was no desire to rebuild the fire. I have always been amazed at how cold I was willing to get before pursuing a fire in the stove.
It seems the same thing happens with the holy fire which burns in our midst. Paul could see this potential, in fact he probably say places where the fire had not just gone out, but was put out. The encouragement to the churches is do not quench the spirit. Let God keep the home fire burning bright and hot. When working with a wood stove it is up to us to build the fire. When following God we do not need to build the fire, we have to make sure we keep it burning.
The great tragedy of church today is when we allow the fire of God, the Holy fire to go out. It continues to amaze me how once the fire is out there will be reflection about how nice the fire was, but there seems to be little desire to seek Holy fire again. It is almost as if we would rather be cold, depressed, oppressed and all together empty than to seek after the passion and fire of God. It is not only the individual who suffers when this happens, whole communities begin to die. Satan begins to fill the open spaces and before long hopelessness sets in and the fire seems very distant. Could it be Paul was warning in Thessalonians because he knew how hard it is to reclaim the Holy Fire of the spirit?
There is Good News however. If we seek the fire we will find it when we seek with all our hearts. The prophet Jeremiah was speaking to a people who were in exile, captivity, enslaved, when he spoke words of hope. Jeremiah 29 is where we see some words of hope, skip verse 11 for a moment and look at verse 13, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." When we pursue the fire, we will find it when we search with reckless abandon.
Has the fire gone out? Are you seeking? What are we holding back?