During my time as a pastor in Winfield, Iowa I had the privilege to serve on the towns volunteer fire department. For 12 years I worked with other men and women of the community as a fire fighter and EMT B. It was always a childhood dream to become a fire fighter and I am so glad that I was able to fulfill that dream. During my 12 years on the department I was promoted to the EMS Captain and fire prevention officer. The reason I was promoted to fire prevention officer was because I was not afraid to speak in public, I hope not, I am a pastor!
One year I thinking about fire prevention and how it could relate to the church. I came up with some interesting correlations.
Now please understand that this is prevention, I am not saying that these things are happening in all our churches but we do need to be aware of them so they will not happen.
1. Fire is fast. Gossip is an awful lot like fire. It is amazing how fast a fire can spread. Gossip is the same way. It is crazy how fast gossip can spread in a church, one story, true or false can spread quickly through a church. One reason fire spreads so fast is because of the fuel. In the church we must not give gossip any fuel to make it spread faster.
Gossip hurts others and destroys our own credibility. Who is going to trust us with anything when they think we will tell everyone else?
Gossip is also a way we judge others, which really isn’t our job. God is in charge of judging people, not us. Gossip really only ends up creating greed, hate, envy, murder.
Gossip is also a sign that we are not really active in our faith and in our lives.
The Apostle Paul ranks gossip with murder. Romans 1:29 – “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips.” NIV
2. Fire is hot. In a typical house fire the temperatures can get up to 1500 2000 degrees Fahrenheit near the ceiling. That is hot. Guess what? Hell is hot. Part of prevention is making sure we or anyone else does not end up in hell. We need to make sure that we are doing all we can to put God in the center of our lives and follow Jesus. We also need to be telling others about God’s goodness, grace, and mercy so we can save them from the heat of hell. Remember, salvation is for everyone!
3. Fire is dark. I remember my first house fire. As I was going in, the smoke from the fire was so heavy and so dark that I could not even see my hand in front of my face. We often describe the world and it’s values as being dark. When we do not have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ we are living in darkness. We must remember to cultivate that relationship.
4. Fire is deadly. Fire kills and destroys. Sadly I have seen this truth in action. Paul says, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 NIV. Sin causes death and we need to do all we can do to prevent sin from entering our lives. We can do this by reading God’s Word, praying daily, attending church, and fellowshipping with Godly people.
I hope that everyone who reads this will do all they can to prevent these kind of fires from spreading in your lives and will instead allow the fire of God’s presence to fill you up.