We must remember and revive our anointing to function in today’s world.
How are you coping in today’s world? Is your fire still burning? Are you still motivated to conquer the Rome that once dominated your ambitions? How you answer those questions reflects the affect the pandemic has had on you spiritually, mentally, and physically.
People have lost their motivation. So much so, that they are exiting this world for the metaverse. According to WIRED: “Broadly speaking, the technologies that make up the metaverse can include virtual reality—characterized by persistent virtual worlds that continue to exist even when you're not playing—as well as augmented reality that combines aspects of the digital and physical worlds.” Think about this: People are living in virtual and augmented realities to escape actual reality.
Driven by Demotivation
What is driving this great escape? Demotivation. Motivation is the fuel that keeps our fire for life burning. When we get to the point that we no longer have fuel for this world and are willing to spend real cash and real time to build a fire in a false world, we are in need of an intervention.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am a product of the video game generation, and I enjoy playing my PlayStation 4 when time permits. But even as I type now, I am reminded that I, too, have used the opportunity to be a Wild West villain, medieval assassin, and Spiderman to take my mind off the work of the ministry. So, in the words of my namesake, I stand accused. But, I haven’t lost my motivation to conquer my Rome.
When we peruse our societal landscape, we discover people leaving their jobs, ending their marriages, quitting the ministry, and losing interest in being productive. The evidence is all around us, and it seems that we are too afraid to acknowledge that things just aren’t the same. We see it. We feel it. We know it. But no one wants to say it. Consequently, we all suffer. Our only hope is to purchase real estate next to Snoop Dogg’s and grab a value meal from McDonald’s in the metaverse. No, really.
Set Your Smolder Ablaze
My wife is the licensed clinical professional counselor and Doctor of Philosophy in Christian counseling, but even my dime-store psychology can diagnose our smoldering fires. A smoldering fire is actually an oxymoron because it is smoke with no fire. It is a slow burn with no flame. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the state of our world.
The apostle Paul challenged his young apprentice, Timothy, to rekindle the smoldering fire of his ministry in 2 Timothy 1:6 NET: “Because of this I remind you to rekindle God’s gift that you possess through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
Timothy came from a strong spiritual heritage informed by his mother and grandmother (1:5). His sincere faith was the foundation and reason Paul reminded him to rekindle the pastoral gift given to him by God and affirmed by Paul. To rekindle is literally to “cause to blaze again.” Timothy was under intense pressure to continue the apostolic ministry of Paul, who was facing the end of his life and ministry. Timothy was a young man who was being asked to pastor people older than and, in some instances, with more aggressive personalities than him. Therefore, to carry out his pastoral gifting, he would need to keep his gift ablaze.
The reason Timothy was to rekindle his fire is because the Spirit of God does not produce a disposition of fear. Fear refers to a “lack of mental or moral strength.” Timothy may have been expressing timidity in response to the pressures he was facing, and Paul needed to remind him that, despite his natural temperament, the Holy Spirit was able to work in his life to produce mental and moral fortitude.
Like Timothy, we have been gifted by God to live out the ministry calling He has placed on our lives. The people we encounter, the tests we experience, and the places we are sent can sometimes produce a disposition of timidity, but we must know that our fears and apprehensions can be overcome when we remember in whom we have believed and the Spirit who lives in us. We don’t need to live in a virtual or augmented reality, because we understand that we are anointed to live in the real world.
Three Keys to Rekindle
In contrast to the spirit of fear, Paul highlights three dispositions or mindsets that God has given every believer to rekindle our fires.
1. God Gave Us the Ability to Function. Timothy may have felt inadequate to lead the churches that Paul was entrusting into his care. He certainly was having challenges with some people challenging his authority because of his age (1 Tim. 4:12). He needed to exercise his ministerial power. This was not a directive to lord it over the churches but to function based on the capability of his gifting.
We, too, have moments where we feel inadequate for the task or overwhelmed by our new world. But it should not debilitate us. We know that God’s Spirit gives us the ability to function on our jobs, in the ministry, and in life. Bottom line, we can function. When we seek to leave this world for another world, we are suggesting that we can no longer function in this one, but Paul says we can because the Spirit, who is not of this world, operates in our lives to keep us operational.
2. God Gave Us the Ability to Love. To guard against Timothy becoming tyrannical in the operation of his pastoral power, Paul informed him that the use of power must be governed by the attitude of love. Love is the affection and compassion we feel toward others. As a shepherd to God’s people, Timothy was required to maintain an attitude of love toward those who despised him, undermined him, and mistreated him. He had a divine calling to live out, but that calling required him to do so in a loving manner.
It seems that the pandemic has made people meaner. Call it COVID fatigue or the zombie apocalypse, but as the song says, “Where is the love?” We see an increase in incidents of road rage, airline assaults, and violence. It is tempting to fight over mask mandates and social distancing guidelines, but God has called us to operate in a spirit of love. We have lost our affection and compassion for others because the pandemic has augmented our concern for others into a concern for me, myself, and I. But as Paul admonished the church in Corinth about how to use their gifts in relationship with each other: “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (1 Cor. 13:4-8a).
3. God Gave Us the Ability to Exercise Self-control. The final mindset that Paul informs Timothy believers receive and can exercise during challenging times is self-control. Self-control is “the ability to understand how to make wise decision.” Timothy’s age was not a liability to exercising spiritual authority, an attitude of love, or good judgment. Given the challenges he was facing, he needed to be reassured that God had equipped him to address situations as they arose, be they internal or external. He was able to function, despite his detractors. He was able to love, despite his enemies. And he was able to do both because the Holy Spirit would guide his decision making in exercising his pastoral responsibilities with those who would seek to oppose him and his leadership.
When we look at the word “self-control” in reverse, it loosely reads “control oneself.” Did you catch that? People are going to the metaverse because they have lost control of themselves. They are seeking to regain control in a world that is not real, but Spirit-filled believers have the ability to maintain control of ourselves in the real world. Although the world grows more out of control, believers should exhibit even greater control, because our faith is genuine and grounded in the reality of the incarnation, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As long as we know He is in control, we can keep ourselves under control no matter what happens in this world.
Remember and Rekindle
How do we function in our giftings, love people who don’t love us back, and keep ourselves under control when those around us are losing control? We do it by keeping our fires burning. The key verb in this Scripture is Paul’s reminder. It was not something Timothy didn’t know; it was something he needed to remember. He had a fire smoldering that needed to be rekindled.
I realize it has been a disruptive two years, and this world feels like another world, but we already know what we believe and in whom we believe. We just need to be reminded that we have a fire inside us that needs to be set ablaze again. The times in which we live have not caught God by surprise. In fact, He has called us to the kingdom for such a time as this. So let us remember His anointing in our lives and begin to function, love, and make decisions like people who have been set on fire for the cause of Christ.
Rev. Isaac Hayes is the president of Healing of the Soul Ministries. He is also an Assistant Pastor at the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago, Illinois, and a doctoral student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL. Follow Rev. Hayes on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @RevIsaacHayes.
 Eric Ravenscraft, “What Is the Metaverse, Exactly? Everything You Never Wanted to Know About the Future of Talking About the Future,” Wired, November 25, 2021, https://www.wired.com/story/what-is-the-metaverse/.  BDAG, 62.  Ibid., 215.  Ibid., 262.  Louw and Nida, 383.