“The angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed” (Exod. 3:2)
When Moses saw that bush, he was amazed! It was a phenomenon – something that immediately attracted his attention. Here was a bush that burned and burned and burned, and went on burning. As far as he could see, it could burn on for eternity, and he could not help but compare himself with that bush! In his heart he must have said something like this: “I’ve never seen a bush like that before. I’m not like that bush! Forty years ago I burned myself out in a heap of ashes, and I have been a heap of ashes for forty years since. There is something unusual about that bush, something very unique! It must be a very wonderful bush!”
“And Moses said, I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.” (Exod 3:3)
Aroused within his heart there was a holy curiosity, and he did a very wise thing – he made intelligent inquiry and, in consequence, he made a very wonderful discovery!
We are tutored in these days to hero worship. in every walk of life we become “fans”, and that is not less true in the area of Christian activity. There are those in whose lives there is manifest evidence of the mighty unction and power of God. They are transparently genuine. The hand of God is upon them. They speak with an authority that God honors. Lives are transformed. Those spiritually dead are raised to life again. Defeated, helpless, useless, barren Christians are transformed into useless vehicles of divine life. Wherever they go it seems that there is a touch of glory about their path, and we admire them and applaud – but we stand back as though this were to be the monopoly of the few, as though they have a special call upon the grace of God, and as though this were something not for the common run of men. We say in our hearts, “There is a bush that burns! I would like to be a bush like that, but I am just a heap of ashes!” And that is as far as it gets.
You discuss the burning bush with others! You admit that it is an amazing thing, and maybe you invite others to come and look at the phenomenon, but you have resigned yourself to be nothing more than what you are – a heap of ashes! It has never dawned on you that you could be anything different, so you have to make the best of a bad job in your own little desert! You resign yourself to sit on the balcony among the spectators, just to be average, a spiritual nonentity!
This is the attitude that Paul sought above everything else to avoid in those of whom it had been his priviledge to lead to the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the significance of his words to the Philippians when he wrote,
“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and do of his good pleasure” (Phil 2:12c – 13)
To the Philippians, who were tempted to lean upon Paul as their spiritual crutch, as though God had a particular interest in him that he did not have in them, he said, in so many words, “All that God has given me, He has given to you! The Lord Jesus Christ who dwells in my humanity is the Lord Jesus Christ who dwells in your humanity. What I have, you have! What I can be by the grace of God, you can be by the grace of God! Work out your own salvation! It is yours as much as mine. It is God, not Paul the apostle, who works in you, both to will and do of His good pleasure. recognize that all the illimitable resources that God has vested in me in the person of His own dear Son are the same illimitable resources that he has vested in you!
This is the message of the Bible, that God has chosen the weak and the base, the nothing and the things that are not to confound the things that are. All God demands of a man is his availability – to be what man was created to be, the human vehicle of the divine life, inhabited by God for God. that God may be Himself – His size in terms of what you are on earth, in your availability to Him. What you are is totally irrelevant – nationality, money, education, personality; if only you will recognize the principle that it is God that works in you, to will and to do of His good pleasure.
The ultimate source of divine activity in all spiritual life is God Himself – “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27c)
– Major W. Ian Thomas –
The Saving Life of Christ
Published by Zondervan 1961