In Isaiah 50:10-11 we read,”Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. But now, all of you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: you will lie down in torment.” I reference this passage because in the days to come godly men will be found building their own fires, providing them torches, to navigate through the spiritual confusion and uncertainty that is descending on our culture. But it will not be enough.
We are experiencing in our culture not just a moral decline, but what Rod Dreher calls a “cosmological shift.” – “the idea that people are the sum of their desires and that marriage has no intrinsic purpose or definition – amount to a total shift in the way our culture looks at human persons.” I do not see the “gay marriage issue” as a hot bottom issue to argue about, but rather see it as part of a culminating slide of our society into moral and spiritual uncertainty. We have lost the cultural battle. Now we need to “prepare a culture of resistance for the church.” Some call it the beginning of a new “dark age.” Isaiah 59:10 describes it well. “Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like men without eyes. At midnight we stumble as if it were twilight; among the strong, we are like the dead.”
Men will be tempted to build their own fires, by embracing the familiar and comfortable, especially in times of uncertainty and confusion. Men will fearfully avoid giving up their ego strength, investing in their particular spiritual improvement projects. This kind of cultural spirituality will not prevail. Remember we are moving into a Post-Christian Era in our nation. Men of God we will have to learn to act and behave differently. “The Male narrative” in the past (patriarchy) has been that men need to be strong and in control. But not today. Generally speaking, men are descending from their privileged position in culture, while women are ascending.
Men, I exhort you not to “build” a fire but rather “tend” the fire that is already within you. John promised that Jesus would baptize us with the Holy Spirit and fire. Jesus, “will ignite the kingdom life within you, a fire within you, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. He’s going to clean house – make a clean sweep of your lives. He’ll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he’ll put out with the trash to be burned” (Luke 3:17-18 – Message). God’s fire brings a “spiritual house cleaning.” So don’t dampen “the fire of the Spirit” (I Thess. 5:19) but rather “fan into flame the gift of God” (II Tim 1:6). Tend the fire within you and let God do his work.
Here’s some advise on tending the fire. First and foremost, cultivate the awareness of the presence of the Spirit within you. Do this by gazing upon the Lord Jesus. Keep your focus on him. Second, trust the fire of the Spirit within you, irregardless of what you experience or your circumstances. It will not die out. Thirdly, be vigilant with your soul. Confess and repent of that which would dampen the fire. Fourthly, commit to walk with other men whose hearts are ignited by the fire. Fifthly, embrace the light given you for each step of the journey. You will be an overcomer, since “God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29).