You've met these people, right? The ones who are super-excited about Jesus all the time, are super-excited that He lived and died and that He lives again, are super-excited that He already knows the most intimate parts of your heart...and are super-confident that He's here doing everything perfectly and wonderfully and awesomely because He is so perfect and wonderful and awesome.
I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that necessarily (there's something disconcerting about it; that's for sure), but when you run into these people, don't you think - man, I wish my faith was like that. I wish I was on fire for the Lord that much...or even a little bit, all the time...or ever. And so, at least in our heads and particularly for still-maturing Christians, that kind of fire becomes the definition of faith.
If you don't believe Jesus with that kind of gusto, do you believe Jesus at all?
That's the question we ask ourselves; it's a question I've asked myself many times. Always thinking my faith could be better, my confident assurance more confident, more assured. Always thinking that if I really loved Jesus, I couldn't help but be so explosively exuberant about it. He would have to burst out of me like candy from a pinata. Isn't that the essence of faith?
And I'll say it again: no.
The essence of faith is not the show you make of Jesus; it is what you invite Jesus to show. Said another way, it's not how you believe in God; it is how much you believe in God.
I'm thinking of men like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who walked into the blazing furnace with quiet words: "If our God would save us... But if He would not...." Isn't that beautiful faith? And the only fire of note is the one seven times hotter in the corner.
I'm thinking of Jesus's quiet words: "Father, into your hands, I commit My spirit." Tremendous faith. And the only fire is the intense pressure and scrutiny coming from the crowds.
The three men in the fire never committed God to anything; they committed themselves to Him. They weren't making a show of what God was about to do, proudly declaring that God would save them. Instead, they said, "If He does, good. If He doesn't, that's ok, too" and in doing so, invited God to show Himself. And He did.
Jesus under fire never declared what God was doing or about to do. He's already said it, but in the moment, He surrendered. It wasn't the way He believed in what God had going on, but how firmly He believed in what God had going on that make these such beautiful words. It's ultimate trust, and God proved faithful.
It's easy to look at faith on fire and think that's what man must be like, that this is the standard of believing. But just the opposite is true.
We must look at man on fire and think that's what faith must look like. Indeed, it does.