The arctic air seems as if it will never leave us. The snow continues to pile up, and everyone wants to stay inside and attempt to escape the horrible conditions. In the midst of all of this God has taught me something very powerful, which is the devastating effect of "cold" Christians on the culture.
As we think of this extreme cold, I want to contrast that with a verse Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church in 1 Thessalonians 5:19 he teaches "Do not put out the Spirit's fire." In writing these words Paul boldly taught that the church can not become a dull, and passion-less community. The very appearance of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts was by tongues of fire descending. Living a life therefore by the Holy Spirit is one that is full of heat. It is a life that is passionate about the things of God. It changes the world bringing the fullness of faith, hope and love.
Many times the church has allowed the understanding of God's triunity to fall flat teaching that the Holy Spirit is our conscience, or moral compass, and directs us to understanding only. However, the Holy Spirit is fully God. The Holy Spirit is the fullness of God at work in our lives. To then quench the Spirit is to quench God at work in our lives, and communities. And as we have seen in Ann Arbor, and across the US turning off the heat is not advisable. It leads to death, it leads to rough conditions and it makes everyone miserable. As I think of the understanding of Christians in America people would be quick to say the same of many of us who profess to follow Jesus. They may say that we make conditions rough, and make everyone's life miserable. Yet the first Christians changed the world, and were largely welcomed by new communities, until it even reached throughout the highest ranks of the Roman Empire. Love is passion, and love changes hearts. Cold is death, and makes life miserable.
In our churches what is the prevailing attitude of the people you meet? Are they hot, or cold? Or are the lukewarm? In all these scenarios God desires only one, He wants us to bring the heat, He wants us to take the warming effects of a burning fire into the coldest areas of our world, and community.
When we look at these conditions one thing is vitally clear. No one wants to be in this cold weather for long. Therefore, no one wants to be around a group of ice cold Christians. In the book of Revelation Jesus says the most challenging words to people who have labeled themselves Christians. In Revealtion 3:15-16 Jesus declares, "I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth." As Jesus talks to the Church he says cold or hot is evident, you either follow Him or you don't. When we are cold, God can act and set us on fire, He can warm our souls when we allow His love to reach us. When we are hot we can warm the world around us. When we are lukewarm, we are not doing anything. We have turned off the fire of the Spirit, and we have ceased to be a healing and powerful witness in our community. For this Jesus says boldly, you are not part of my Church, and I will spit you out.
As we face this arctic air remember that it is also a telling sign of our walk with Christ, and love for the world. If we are cold, no one wants to be around us, and we are hurting the community around us. Don't quench the fire of the Spirit, find a way to be a place of warmth within your church and community.