Smelling of Smoke
March 15, 2006 ē By Ed Wrather
For we are Godís fellow workers; you are Godís field, you are Godís building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each oneís work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each oneís work, of what sort it is. If anyoneís work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyoneís work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. - 1 Corinthians 3:9-15.
In the Texas panhandle over the last few days there have been wildfires burning at last count nearly 900,000 acres. Eleven people have lost their lives because of the fire and many more injured. Huge numbers of livestock and wildlife have been lost. There is reportedly one major fire still burning in the area but more are expected with the high winds today. Sunday afternoon the closest report of fire to us, just over the state line in Oklahoma, was a little over 20 miles away at Wheeler, Texas. However, by late in the afternoon we could see and smell the smoke. By the time, we gathered for our evening service our sanctuary had smoke inside of it. You might have thought we were in a smoke filled bar! As you would imagine, we started our service that night with a season of prayer.
The apostle Paul reveals the result of a Christian living a life focused on worldly things instead of putting first the Kingdom of God. The result is going to be that their work, "is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire." They will make it into Heaven but you will probably be able to smell the smoke on them.
According to the Gallop Organizationís research, 8 in 10 of those living in the United States claim to be Christians. 59% of Americans say that religion is very important to them while 34% say they attend church every week.
Another Gallop poll asked these questions: I give my time to help and serve others in my community 34%; My first priority in spending money is to support Godís work 31%; I keep my composure even when circumstances or people irritate me 20%; and I am known for not raising my voice 19%. 47% said they believed it was important to share their faith with others, 52% said they pray for non-Christians to accept Christ as their Savior, and 54% said that they speak words of kindness to those in need.
The poll numbers point to the fact that large numbers of Christians, almost half or more may be in the making it to Heaven smelling of smoke group. Large numbers of Christians or at least, those who claim to be Christians, are not actually practicing their faith. One particularly troubling answer was that only 28% regularly study the Bible to find direction for their lives.
Life is very fragile and very precious - it is a gift. Eternal life is also a gift. Serving God and living our lives for Him is a gift. It is a wondrous thing that we are allowed the privilege to be "fellow workers" with God.
What is your life building in terms of eternity? Will what you have built with your life still be standing when you enter into Heaven? Or, will it all just be a smoky ruin?