[This op-ed was originally published at The Christian Post.]
I was that kid.
You know the one. The one who studied her Bible until it fell apart. The one who got up at the crack of dawn to do devotions and get to school an hour early to walk around her campus and pray for revival. The one who genuinely loved Jesus with all her heart and couldn't wait to tell everyone about him—even passing out gospel tracts to the drug dealers, goths, and drag queens on Hollywood Boulevard. The one who was "on fire for God."
The one who always secretly felt like God was always bummed out that she wasn't doing enough.
The one who kept her struggles private because she didn't want to let anyone down.
The one whose faith got shaken by clever arguments against Christianity....well into adulthood.
In high school, I hated the phrase "on fire for God." It never felt right to me. I remember talking with a friend at church summer camp about our mutual aversion to the term. "It suggests something you have to work up....something that will die out at some point," we would muse. In our youthful zeal and naivete we came up with a phrase we liked even better: "Forever smoldering for God." Now THAT would look great on a t-shirt!
It was cheesy, but maybe we were on to something.
Don't get me wrong. The Bible is chock FULL of fire metaphors. Hebrews 12:29 describes God as an "all-consuming fire." God first appeared to Moses in a burning bush and followed the Israelites in a pillar of fire. The Holy Spirit came upon first-century believers as "tongues of fire" resting on their heads and gave them continued boldness. It's obvious that God likes to use fire as a symbol of His presence.
However, there's an important distinction to make here. In the Bible, God's fire was usually associated with His very presence—and with cleansing. The fire burned away the silver and dross from precious metal in Psalm 66:10, and tested the hearts of men in Proverbs 17:3. Psalm 97:3 describes the fire of God actually consuming His foes.
Often when people talk about someone being "on fire for God," they are referencing an outward passion or enthusiasm about God that isn't necessarily associated with the fearsome cleansing and refining of the fire of God found in Scripture.
If your teen is openly passionate about the things of God, that is wonderful! But outward expressions of emotion and zeal aren't always good indicators of an authentic and deeply rooted faith. If your teen is more subdued....more quiet and thoughtful about their faith, that's ok too—and it might even serve them better in the long run. As someone who was known to be "on fire," I know firsthand the pitfalls and dangers of that label. Here are 4 Reasons being "on fire for God" can be a deceptive indicator of your teen's faith:
Continue reading atchristianpost.com