Malachi 3 tells us the LORD is like a refiner’s fire. The imagery is graphic. He purifies us in order to improve us. And we know that because the very purpose of a refiner’s fire is to remove impurities. We must be freed of things like:
- Immorality, etc., etc.
But for most readers of this blog, refinement in those areas is well underway. What refinement would help you, your family, your local church, and the Kingdom? At least one answer exists!
Refiner’s Fire: Flames For Labels
I have previously advocated the loss of labels for our society. American culture hasn’t been well-served by (fill-in-the-blank) Americans. During my lifetime the labels have proliferated. The blank is filled in with:
- And you get the idea
Celebrating one’s heritage is a good thing. I am certainly not opposed or advocating opposition. But focusing on the label rather than American has had a divisive impact on our American culture. That is a predictable outcome of focusing on our differences. Maybe some needed healing in our country could be brought about if our labels were pitched in the flames. And that point is a good example of a great spiritual need.
A Refiner’s Fire: Kingdom First
The Church is supposed to be salt and light. That means we are God’s agents of preservation for society. We should impact our surrounding society for Kingdom purposes. But the Church has often invited societal influences to come in and ‘have a seat.” And this idea of labels is one of those times.
Division in the Church stems from our use of society’s labels. We have Christians who are:
- Liberal, etc.
It’s even more important for the redeemed to be refined and burn the labels.
The previous series was about refining our God-given purpose. And this is an unexpected extension of those thoughts. I ran across a piece that addressed these labeling divisions in the Church. The piece is by K. A. Ellis on Christianity Today. Some paragraphs are pasted below the sign-off. A link to the full article is also provided.
AND, is a prayer for blindness a good thing? It could be. In fact, there’s evidence it could improve our vision! Check the next post…
Soli Deo Gloria!
Comments by K. A. Ellis in referenced article:
Christians are most powerful not when we’re “countercultural” but “other-cultural,” not “a-political” but “other-political.” Our power lies in engaging the culture truthfully and lovingly on Christ’s terms, refusing assimilation for acceptance’s sake. Historically, the true church values faithfulness over dominance—consequences be damned.
The late African theologian Kwame Bediako said how we frame our identity shapes the questions we ask, informs the answers we seek, and drives our actions and loyalties, carefully weighing our unity against our particular social and political concerns.
With an identity centered solely in the transformational Christ of Scripture, we are more in concert with the orthodoxy of two-thirds-world Christians, especially those in the underground church. We may be small in numbers at home, but when taken globally, we become a force whose faith can shape the culture, not vice-versa.
When we see afresh our primary identity in Christ, it’s as if we’ve been born into new and fertile terrain. We continue to “act justly and love mercy” (Mic. 6:8), affirming lives from the womb to the tomb. We proclaim the kingdom to the outcast, the unjustly accused, the powerless in our cities and rural areas—to any person, issue, or system crying out for Christ’s understanding of human flourishing. Yet we do so now more acutely conscious of the rest of the verse in Micah: walking humbly with our God.