About 8 years ago in the US were some terrible forest fires, such as has never before been experienced, nor since. Here in NZ we watched for months on the news constant reports of the ever advancing fires that were devastating the forests in, if I remember correctly, over ten states, from Florida to Oregon, and most in between. Firefighters from Australia Canada and here went to assist in the disaster. When they were finally under control, it was nature and not man that brought the fires to an end.
I well remember a reporter asking a forest service officer the cause of such a devastating fire. “Why so bad?”, she asked. The reply was shocking, but immediately understandable. “Because we were too good at putting out previous fires.”
Do you see the significance of that reply? You see, too much rubbish and dry rotted and waste timber had built up on the forest floor and thus there was a huge amount of fuel for the fire to feed off. Couple that with a particularly dry summer and the result was a disaster. Allowing controlled fires to previously burn off that rubbish would have been far less dangerous, lest costly, and more manageable.
Scripture alludes to the child of God as a tree. (See Psalm 1)
I see many trees as a forest, thus the church as a forest. There is rubbish (sin) within each believer and within the church that must be allowed to be burnt off. The Holy Spirit is the agent of fire. We are to be tried as gold in the fire that the impurities may be cleansed. Jesus says “Re 3:18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see.
We must not act as firefighters. We must allow the fire of the Holy Spirit to do His work. If we resist the Holy Spirit, if we refuse to allow Him to cleanse us or we deny that there is cleansing to be done, then the rubbish will build up to such an extent that there will be only one fire capable of the cleansing. Sadly, if we are not separated from the sin in our lives now, we will be destroyed along with it later.
Fire is a healthy instrument for the forest and the church.. Freeing the forest/church from the rubbish on the floor allows new trees/Christians to germinate and grow without hindrance.
Dead wood/sin within each tree/Christian burnt off allows freedom to grow and bear fruit.
Stronger trees/Christians make for stronger forests/churches.
There are many other parallels and similarities – the point being that we must consider what we are now undergoing and accept it for what it is. A cleansing sanctifying work being accomplished by a holy sovereign gracious God who is making us fit for His kingdom.
Jas 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
1Pe 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: