by SAMUEL O. TAIWO
“Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”
I approach this topic with particular caution principally because it is one for which many Christians may really not be ready. But I promise to hide nothing back and do my very best in telling the truth about it as much as I can.
The doctrine and practice of Christlike holiness is one unfortunate stranger in many a Christian circle.
Because, unlike our Master who had a more focused purpose for everything he did, we dined and drank with ‘sinners and publicans’ for two millennia, not because of our interest in the sinful and damning conditions of their precious hearts, but because we loved their meal so much so that we eventually became like them. And like some stray pig drowning in a well of pathetic confusion, the Christian Church began to borrow from hell’s poisonous menu the recipe for the sinner’s dish with which to prepare her own spiritual meal under the guise of ‘I became all things to all men that by all means I might save some’, forgetting that sinners must be reached by ‘snatching them from the flames of judgment, while hating the very sins that contaminated their lives!’
It is a trite fact that, for heaven’s refining fire to descend, the altar must be repaired. And what more can that altar be but our very hearts.
Until our hearts are a mirror-like reflection of heaven’s sanctified culture and our daily thoughts a citadel of heaven’s praise; until our core passion is the heartbeat of heaven and our actions in public and in private can provoke nothing from God but that holy approval to wit – this is my beloved child in whom I am well pleased; until our records in heaven are blameless and straight, and our religiosity is nothing to us but rotten dung; until we crucify with righteous indignation anything and everything which contends overtly or covertly with the supreme lordship of Jesus in our daily lives; until we take with utmost seriousness the sanctity of our Christian pilgrimage and declare before a sinful world by a holy zest, a rugged faith, and a heaven-sped resolve, ‘I have crossed the rubicon!’, we may never know just what it means for the fire to descend.
If there’s anything for which the Christian Church must pray with the vent of a wounded lion, it is, for heaven’s holy fire.
What then is this fire?
It is that without which the gospel of Jesus remains ashamedly mute and dumb to the intelligent reasonings and questions of men; it is that for which the early Church so anxiously tarried in fervent prayer ten straight days at the upper room; it is heaven’s definitive thumbprint of approval on the sacrifice of our heaven-bound consecration.
Show me a man who, by heaven’s design is dead to the delicacies of hell, ready and willing to live and die for the gospel of Jesus, and I’ll show you one ready for this type of fire.
I regret to say this, but I must, anyway: the Christian Church at large is lamentably far from God’s original design as revealed in Scripture. Take the Holy Spirit out of our Churches, and everything continues just as fine. Take the Holy Spirit out of the early Church and everything completely stops!
How then can it be said that we got so far away from our first love?
We became too comfortable with the world’s approval of our exploits and got carried away by its praises; we got too familiar with God’s grace and substituted man made administrative structures for the independent workings of the Holy Spirit; we explained away the terribleness of possessing that accursed thing and became more liberal in our approach to secret and open sin; we failed to bind up with unbreakable noose ropes our besetting sins and little foxes to the altar of permanent death; we got so satisfied by the few answers wrought by our ceaseless and daily lifestyle of prayer night and day that we began to take for granted the effectual fervency of this sacred tradition; we began to measure the depth of our Christian sanctification and right standing with God by the fickle thrill of daily supernatural miracles; we exposed our once tender consciences to the hardening fire of rebellion against God till we began to see absolutely nothing wrong in despising with spiteful derision our fallen Christian brotherman; we became tempted by that sweet smelling savour of Hell’s dreadful Kitchen till we, like Esau of old, exchanged our blood-bought birthrights for the devil’s pottage; we closed our Bibles and began to look to men as our role models and final authorities on delicate matters of eternal consequences; we became discreet with the devil and, by some oversight gave him an inch, but now he’s quickly gone a mile! What more then can our fate be but a broken altar?!
The fate of a broken altar is more to be dreaded than earth’s worst tragedies. And there’s nothing grimmer in all of creation than the plight of being called by heaven the forbidden name of Ichabod!
To repair my broken altar, I’ll gladly do all within my power as a living human entity to carefully and scrupulously heed that revered warning of Jesus to the Ephesian Church:
“return to the simplistic sincerity of how you used to love me when you first believed”.
This is all we need!
Do I now do today those things for which I particularly felt guilty of doing when I first believed? Do I sometimes excuse my error of omission, choosing rather to offend God simply because I know he’ll forgive me when I ask him to? Am I still as faithful in swiftly obeying the clear command of all Scripture like I would when I first believed? If the Rapture suddenly occurred before I’m done reading this post, is there any reason why I think I might be left behind? Have I now been so caught up with my daily activities, sparing me no private time with God? Do I now see myself as an authority so important in the body of Christ that I can no longer be corrected or admonished by ‘one of these little ones’? Do I still retain in my heart to this day an old offence committed against me by my brotherman? These are pious questions which must be rightly answered in the privacy of solemnity. And until our answers to these questions align perfectly with the mind of God as revealed in Scripture, line upon line, precept upon precept, the long awaited fire of revival in the Church today may never descend.
On this note, I cannot agree more with God’s express mind regarding the altar of our hearts as revealed in Scripture:
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins, and will heal their land.”