Candles. We all have them. Tall ones, short ones, fat pillar candles, skinny tapered ones, stubby tea light candles. We have wax candles, electric candles, oil-filled candles, battery-operated candles.. Maybe you even have some with a remote to turn them on and off, or ones that can change colors!
Candles were originally made for one—and only one—purpose: to give light! But now, they fall into one of three “families”.
- Emergency candles – These are the candles that disperse the blackness of the storm, light the way to the kitchen or bathroom and guide us through the gloom.
- Decorative candles – We have these for family gatherings, dinner parties, setting the mood, décor in our homes.
- Hope candles – These candles we light and set in a window or in the front of a church. They offer us comfort and encouragement and an invitation to come in from the storm to sit and rest for a while.
Our faith is very much like a candle.
We have our “9-1-1 faith”—that emergency faith we keep hidden away somewhere “just in case”. A lot of folks have this “emergency” stash of faith for those life-and-death moments when life becomes too much to handle. Generally not regular church-goers, they still believe (at least a little bit) in a God who is there to help when life caves in. Having a “9-1-1 faith” I suppose is better than having no faith at all.
A good number of people—even good church folks—have a decorative candle kind of faith. They are comfortable talking about faith and prayer at a church class or conference, but never consider seeking God’s guidance in a business venture or at the voting booth. A “decorative faith” is a comfortable faith that doesn’t ask much of us…and doesn’t really expect much of God either.
Eternal Flame Faith
The third type of faith, which Jesus lifted up as the kind of faith we should strive for, is life those unusual candles of hope. They are highly visible lights that shine night and day in the terror of darkness as well as the brightness of noonday. It is a person faith that is anything but private. It is a powerful, compelling, inviting light that beckons those struggling in the darkness to come home—come back to God. It is a faith that permeated ALL of life and does not turn away from the hard questions, the difficult issues or the tensions of real life.
It is the kind of faith that Jesus wants from us, but it is not an easy faith. Nor is it a crystal-clear and black-or-white kind of faith. It is an all or nothing, 100% committed, all in faith. He has invited us, even challenged us, to be that light on a lampstand that we lift up so everyone can see our Creator. This is not a tiny flickering flame, but it is Jesus Christ, the Light of the world. Be a candle of hope.
Strive to have faith like a hope-giving candle. Amen…and amen…