My husband and I have two toddlers, a two year old and a one year old. They have shown us how marvelous and miraculous God’s blessings truly are in so, so many ways. But when I say our little guys are energetic, I am truly putting it mildly. A better description would be energetic to the 1000th degree. There are times when we literally cannot keep up with them. For example, just recently we were out shopping on a Saturday in a very crowded mall. The one year old apparently noticed that his father and I were distracted and decided that was the time to make his break. He bolted out of the store, pacifier in tow, and started running through the mall. My husband took off after him and the two year old took off after my husband. (I continued shopping, because they would still need sandals once my husband hauled them back, right?). I guess our youngest has been planning his escape for a while, as he looked very determined when he passed the store window, but that’s an entirely different story. So, after the “freedom run” we decided it was time to head home. As we loaded the duo into their double stroller, the boys were as giddy and tickled as can be. They appeared to be all revved up for their next adventure. But even with all that virility, they were both sound asleep before we made it out of the parking lot. My husband made an excellent comparison. In his analogy he said the little fellows were like ethanol fuel. They burn really hot when they are on, but they also burn out very quickly. Yes, they are a handful, but they just can’t keep up that pace for very long periods of time.
Have you noticed a similar pattern in the Body of Christ? Too often people come to the Church and get caught up in the release of emotions in a lively worship service. To be quite honest, no one wants to serve a boring, underwhelming, God so who doesn’t enjoy a stirring service. However, the problem with making a life altering decision solely based on an emotional response is that the decision making process is clouded. Emotions are powerful, but they are also fickle and fleeting. I’m sure we can all think of a fellow Saint who may have shouted, danced, or cried their way to the altar during a fiery service. They gave their life to Christ, went through the assimilation process, and got baptized as soon as possible. They went on to join ten of the church’s twenty ministries, never missed a service of any type, talked about giving up all things secular, and managed to carry the biggest Bible and highlighter kit known to man. Then the emotional fueled energy turns into exhaustion and frustration. You notice they missed a few Sundays or didn’t show up to the ministry meeting. You try calling but their number has changed, and they won’t respond to emails. What happened? How could they go from being on fire for the Lord to being completely fizzled out in a matter of months? Proverbs 19:2 explains it like this, “It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.”
Yes, it is most certainly God’s desire that no one should be lost, but God never intended for His church to be comprised of overly emotional, under committed folks. In order for us humans to love someone unconditionally we have to take time to get to know the person. We have to feel secure with the person and know that they are trustworthy. And in our humanness we must take time to get to know God also. We should most definitely love Him for just being Him, but we are imperfect creatures who live in a fallen world. We have been let down, we have been hurt, and we are cautious even when it comes to God. Studying God’s Word does not benefit God. It benefits us and allows us to grow a real relationship with Christ. But if we aren’t studying, we don’t know God. If we don’t know God, we don’t know His will for our lives. If we don’t know His will for our lives, we soon come down from the excitement of a great service and get caught up in the tests of life.
God has designed us all to do something extraordinarily special in His Kingdom. It is the responsibility of mature Christians who have been on the journey for a while to help those just coming to Christ to understand the value of developing a personal relationship with the Master, rather than trying to please Him through a legalist existence. “Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not —to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29). The elimination of Ethanol Christians can only happen if mature Christians are willing to be honest about the message that is being sent to new Believers.
Let’s all commit to taking time to do a private self-evaluation with just you and yourself. Ask yourself the tough questions. Am I working in the area of giftedness that God designed for me, or am I doing what I “feel” like doing? Am I a ministry-jack-of-all-trades but a master of none? Am I so concerned about keeping certain laws that others find me condemning and cold? Does my home personality match my church personality? How are my actions impacting those closest to me? Am I making them more interested in getting to know Christ or am I pushing them away? Am I giving God my sincere best or am I mostly just trying to “save face”? Do I possess any of the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 (“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law”)? Would I still be willing to work for the Lord if I was not being compensated? Would I still be willing to work for the Lord if I was no longer the leader/soloist/drummer/preacher/pastor/first lady/missionary/etc.? Would I still be willing to work for the Lord if I never get any recognition? It’s okay to be honest with your answers because God already knows your heart.
The bottom line is very simple. Ethanol Christians will continue to come in strong and then disappear just as swiftly until the entire Body of Christ can get beyond personalities, titles, emotions and whatever else we want to use to make us erroneously feel as if we are the standard. But since we are only flawed humans, how can that even be a real possibility? Jesus was pretty clear, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself,” (John 12:32). Christ is the only one who deserves the spotlight. As a matter of fact, He gave life for it.