Winter came early to the mountains where we were spending our summer vacation. Of course, that’s to be expected if we’re on vacation; in the summer, it’s probably going to get to be winter. But one night the temperature actually dropped into the 30s and no one was prepared for that. We’re in this little cabin, and all of us… suddenly we’re snuggling under this warm, Hudson Bay blanket. Therefore, we actually didn’t have any awareness of how cold it was outside, because, well, we were warm.
Well, I ventured out of bed first that morning, and I very quickly discovered that we were in a very cold situation. So I wrapped up in everything I could find and I knew what I had to do. I had to get to the only source of heat in that cabin, which was the wood stove, and I had to get a fire going as fast as possible – pioneer Ron. Right! You know if you’re warm where you are, it’s pretty easy to forget how cold it is all around you.
I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “Braving the Cold, Building a Fire.”
Now, our word for today from the Word of God is about braving the cold and building a fire I guess you could say.
It’s in Romans 15. I’m going to read verses 20 and 21, where Paul talks about the driving ambition of his life. Here’s what he says: “It has always been my ambition…” Oh really, Paul, what’s that? “…to preach the gospel where Christ was not known so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. Rather, as it is written, those who were not told about Him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.”
Now, I like that word ambition. I don’t know what you think of when you think of ambition, but don’t you usually think of somebody driving and pushing for something that they’re determined is going to happen in their life, sort of a consuming, obsessing goal?
Paul says here that this magnificent obsession for him is to get to a world out there who has no knowledge about our Jesus. In essence, Paul is saying, “I want to go out into the cold; there’s a big, cold world out there, and I want to go out and build a fire where there is no warmth. I can’t just keep staying where it’s warm.” Man, I hope you feel that way. I think God hopes you feel that way. I hope it’s a driving ambition. a passion of your life, because I know it’s how God feels. I know it’s what drove Jesus. I mean, He said He was here to seek and save the lost.
See, we Western Christians live under a pretty warm blanket spiritually, don’t we? We’re warmed by Bible studies and seminars, concerts, Christian radio, Christian books, Christian TV, and Christian websites, and our favorite teachers, and our heroes. But outside our little blanket, it’s really cold outside.
Martin Marty, the church historian was quoted once on the front page of the Wall Street Journal as saying, “If you’re part of the evangelical subculture, it’s your whole life. You go to church, you buy the religious books, you watch the television programs. But if you’re not part of the subculture, you never even know it exists.” Yeah, there’s a cold world out there where families are collapsing, sex and love are totally devalued, relationships are disappointing, broken. There’s an epidemic of loneliness, a growing epidemic of suicide. There’s no meaning to stick around for. There’s a quiet desperation.
It’s time for us to get out from under our blanket and start a fire. How can we be content or comfortable any longer? Let’s pray, “Lord, I want to lift up my eyes to the lost people around me. I want to live my life to reach them; to rescue them for You. I want to urge my troubled believers, my church, to see that it exists for those who aren’t in the church yet, churches aren’t just for those who are already in.”
Let’s actually ask God to break our heart with the things that break His. Take some risks to reach your neighbor, to give, to reach out to other people, to see your time, your money, your influence, your building, and your background, and your talent as a resource to take Christ’s warmth into a cold, cold world. We’ve got to get out there and build a fire.