An Unattended Fire

“We have been speaking with the site team at The Portsmouth Academy about the fire drill and have made the decision to postpone it again(!) due to the wet weather and soggy/muddy field (which is the main muster point for those evacuating the building). We’ll confirm a future date in the Spring/Summer as soon as possible.

Please make sure you are fully aware of the evacuation procedures in case there is a fire alarm at any point. Thank you again for your patience!”

I had a dream recently where I visited another church which was based in a cinema or theatre. It had a range of lovely comfy brown leather seating and I was shown a brand new sound system on the ceiling/wall which cost the church £1.5m.

The techy guy showing us really knew his stuff and seemed to have a great handling of it all. 

Prior to seeing these things, during my visit, I had witnessed a fire burning at the back of this room under the seating. It was a small fire but was clearly ready to spread. I believe in the dream I had somehow already experienced the same before in another church where the fire begun to spread and take hold. 

I believe the church is sick. Not our church or another church, I mean the Church as a whole, at least in ‘the West’.

“Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands.”  Malachi 1:10 NIV

We have compromised the power and strength of the Kingdom by allowing the things, views and values of the world into our lives and in church, to the point where comfort may trump seeking and carrying out the will of God – recognising and bringing out those things that go deeper than the surface; the heart of the matter of our relationship and healing with God, each other, and humanity as a whole. 

We ARE continuing to light fires on the altar – it’s not as if we don’t ‘attend’ church, read the Bible or pray. BUT are these fires of any value if we are keeping our doors open to the world at the same time?

Are these fires remaining small and under the surface, not able to spread across and beyond the church as we remain so distracted by what we see, let in and even embrace from outside?

And are there other fires burning underneath that will cause real damage which we should be dealing with now, but are not due to our preference to focus on what’s on the surface?

The first bit of text at the top of this message is an update from our church about ongoing plans to have a fire drill at church at the school on a Sunday morning. I am not at all sharing this as a criticism of a delayed fire drill or of our church per se. 

Yet, I believe that message and situation is actually quite symbolic and even prophetic in ways it was not intended to be; the fact we are putting off practising to be prepared for a real fire because conditions are not exactly as we would like them, they are not comfortable. 

Do we at least know the evacuation procedures in case of a fire alarm? 

A fire is coming, but are we preferring our comfort and putting off our preparation to be ready for that time? 

I certainly include myself in this and am concerned and honestly don’t know where to start. 

However, remember the sick man by the pool who felt helpless in getting better? All Jesus wanted to know of the man was his level of faith that he could be healed – despite the apparent impossibility and helplessness. 

We are in for a difficult time, but God promises to return us to Him as His people and He our God. 

Dear Lord, please help us, your Church, to be healed from the sickness of choosing comfort over obedience, to become alert and ready for you to come like a thief in the night, as you warn us you will, and not to be caught napping in comfort. Amen. 

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