“My fear is not that our great movement… will eventually cease to exist or one day die from the earth. My fear is that our people will become content to live without the fire, the power, the excitement, the supernatural element that makes us great.”Charles Wesley)
When I was growing up in central Iowa, the only fireworks allowed in our yard on the Fourth of July were sparklers. If you’re not familiar with the term ‘sparkler,’ picture a straight wire that’s been dipped into a combustible coating. When lit, these hand-held fireworks send out delightful showers of white sparks.
These entry-level fireworks are ideal for small children to play with. After producing a dazzling display of light, sparklers abruptly run out of fuel and extinguish themselves. They expire in less than a minute, typically without lighting anything else on fire.
It’s sad to say, but I know a few Christians who could be compared to these sparklers. They occasionally put out a little bit of light, perhaps over a particular season (Christmas or Easter). They may produce a small shower of sparks now and then, but these Christians appear to be relatively harmless. They don’t seem to be in danger of actually passing on the flame.
In contrast to a party sparkler, the New Testament introduces us to a dangerous follower of Christ named Timothy. This young man’s faith had first been sparked by his mother and his grandmother. His tender spirit was further encouraged by his mentor Paul. And now Timothy is told it’s time to fan this “gift of God” into flame. The apostle Paul writes to his protege:
“I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Tim 1:5-7
Timothy served Christ and the Church in the specific role of pastor. But picture any follower of Christ filled with faith, courage, power, love, self-discipline, and the Spirit of God. What label would you put on him or her? I would describe this individual as nothing short of hazardous!
Every person who has received the Gospel has been filled with life and potential power. But in reflecting on the teachings of Jesus and Paul, I am left wondering why some come and go without being transformed into faith “sparkers” (as opposed to “sparklers”). I don’t know about you, but I aspire to Thomas Fuller’s description: “Some men, like a tiled house, are long before they take fire, but once on flame there is no coming near to quench them.”
How dangerous are you? Is anyone near you being lit up by your faith and the gifts you’ve been given? What prayerful steps, by God’s grace, do you envision taking today, to further spread the flame?
May the Spirit of Christ fuel and empower you for all He intends to work in and through you!
By Rev. Pete Mueller
Area C, Mission Strategist