December 27th, 2006
I answered a question on the Onething Forums (www.ihop.org) that I thought captured the essence of what I signed up for. The original post asked what the phrase “buy gold refined in the fire” from Revelation 3:18 meant. Here was my answer:
My vote is that it means:
1. “Buy” - to pay the price by rending your heart (Joel 2:13) in a place of the recognition of true spiritual poverty (need for supernatural resource - Matt. 5:3).
For a believer there must come a day in which they recognize that their gifting, strength, ability, and natural resource can not deliever them from their crisis nor bring them into a true expression of the kingdom. They must then begin the process of tearing themselves away from the places of strength or comfort that they lean on or depend on when they are under pressure. This is a painful process - it truly rends the heart to tear yourself away from the natural things you draw strength from or confidence in.
The Laodicean church in Revelation had grown confident in its own strength and resource - thus could not see their own lack of internal fire from God. Jesus was kindly exhorting them to begin a painful journey that would cost them everything - to turn even from the permissable things, or the “weights” that were hindering the deeper life in the Holy Spirit. They had to realize their spiritual bankruptcy and seek to obtain eternal things - or true gold.
2. “…gold” - Thus that which Jesus was counseling them to pursue radically was the “gold” of authentic internal life in God. Really, all of the beatitudes of Matt. 5:3-10 could be considered the true “gold” of the kingdom as the believer cultivates true maturity regarding their inward pursuit and desires.
God Himself wants to give us “gold” - a true inward transformation by grace in which we pursue and desire only Him rather than the external things that weigh us down and seduce us into thinking that we have arrived at something (i.e. recognition or success). The seeming “success” or outward prosperity of the Laodicean church had tricked them into thinking that God approved of them and that they were doing great.
3. “…refined in the fire” - speaks of the processes in the leadership of God to produce the pure gold of a heart fully loyal and devoted to Him in voluntary weakness and dependancy. The one whose boast is truly in the Lord Himself as Provider, Friend, Leader, and King is the one who has submitted to the necessary processes of trial, tribulations, and shaking - and did not quit along the way because of the power of the love of Christ working within them. As we are refined in the fire we are purified in our motives and desires so that we can come into full voluntary agreement with Jesus our King.
In other words, I signed up for the real gold - I have set my heart to see the authentic kingdom of God come into my life and my community. I won’t be satisfied by anything less, and can’t be consoled by anything else. Or at least, I don’t want to be.
I am sitting in this prayer room today, restless and hungry but with grace from a kind God to transform what I hunger for. It’s what I signed up for.
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