READ: Psalm 22, Isaiah 25-27, John 15, Acts 1
GOD’S FIERY CENTER
God says of Himself: “Fury is not in me” (Isaiah 27:4). The fire at God’s center is love, not wrath. Yes, it is true that “God is angry at the wicked every day.” Yes, at the cross wrath and mercy meet. Yes, sinners are in the hands of an angry God, precariously in danger of hell. None of these complementary truths diminish the reality that God is love, He is motivated by love, and that love undergirds all things–even wrath. God is not energized by anger, the fire in God is a passionate love. God is not explained by His eternal attributes canceling each other out in a sum zero effect. God’s mercy (His love in action) crown and connect all His ways. God’s anger is just because God is love.
There are times when those who follow God should be angry. There are temples to cleanse, there are hypocrites to call out, there are innocent children to defend, there is justice to advance, there are lies and perversity to attack and even kill. If our fiery center is anything but love (even if it is justice, truth, cause, outrage, need, etc.), we will eventually lose our balance and become just like those we strive against. We must learn to follow Jesus in striving FOR those we disagree with–and this can only be done if the fire that rages within us is that of love. We were designed to be passionate, emotional creatures. Our balance comes from being extreme in opposite directions, not from a cancelation of qualities that makes us boring and lifeless.
We can be on fire and at peace at the same time. To be passionate and extreme is not to be out of control. The husband who loves his wife exuberantly to the end of his days is to be commended, not mocked. His passion requires disciplined and sustained faithfulness. God has promised to “keep in perfect peace” those whose mind is stayed on Him (Isaiah 25:6). A mind fixed on Jesus controls the fire that burns within the spirit. A mind and will subject to God’s Word rejoices at the great treasure therein, and “great peace have those who love Your law, nothing causes them to stumble” (Psalm 119:162, 165). Those who abide in God’s Word, John 15:11 tells us, abide in His love and the result is joy.
We are not called to have anger at our center, but we are called to be on fire. We should be the most active, passionate, extreme people on the planet. When our fire is sourced in love, when it is governed by the peace that comes from obeying God’s Word, the result is not only joy for us, but joy for all around us–for all we touch. The fire within us spreads to set others aflame. John Wesley put it well: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can… Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come for miles to watch you burn.”