In 1996, the Olympic summer games were held in the United States. The Olympic torch traveled across America to communities containing 90% of the America population. Ten thousand Americans were given the high honor of carrying the Olympic torch before it reached its final destination in Atlanta, Georgia. People, of diverse ethnic groups and ages carrying the Olympic flame, ran, walked, or rode their route to the next torch bearer and handed it off. They traveled in all sorts of weather. It was rainy when the flame came to my city. The wind was howling and the rain pelted the runner as he crossed a tall bridge carrying the Olympic flame. Because the torch was carefully designed, the flame continued to burn in spite of the inclement weather. I waited to get a closer look at the runner with his famous torch. He was dripping wet and sloshing through puddles, but you should have seen his face; it was beaming. The dismal rain didn’t douse his spirits. He held the torch triumphantly high. The crowds clapped and cheered; the torch was passing!
What an awesome experience!
I was caught up in the ecstasy of the moment. We weren’t there to see a person; we were there to see the Olympic Flame. Seeing the flame didn’t change my life. As a matter of fact, I’ve never read any account that the Olympic flame made any significant difference in anyone’s life.
What a honor.
While there are no crowds lining the streets to applaud your passing, you are chosen by Almighty God to carry the flame of God. We believers love John 3:16. But we should also love Luke 3:16…
it’s just as life changing.
John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
What a graphic picture fire paints for us.
But, what does it mean to us? Often in the Bible fire represents the presence of God. Helps Word Studies says “In Scripture, fire is often used figuratively – like with the “fire of God” which transforms all it touches into light and likeness with itself.” The fire of God transforms us and makes us more like God.
Another symbolic use of fire is passion.
In our culture fiery love is called passion. When we speak of the death of Christ we call it the Passion of Christ.
Lots of folks talk about love.
We want to be loved. We want to give love… Yet in our culture love only lasts as long as it’s:
We see people being
by the same people that say they love them.
It’s tragic. It’s…
just plain WRONG!
not what God had in mind at all!
Love doesn’t destroy people.
2 Corinthians 5:14 NIV “For Christ’s love compels us…” KJV “For the love of Christ constraineth us…” But wait a minute. Compels means “to go”; constrains stops. How could both of these translations be correct? They are opposites!
I found my answer in the love chapter 1 Corinthians 13. When you look at it there are some things that love does and some things that it doesn’t do. Let’s look at that closer.
rejoices in truth
Love is not…
harbor a list of faults or wrongs
think the worst
rejoice when bad things happen.
I made my list from the King James Version.
You might want to make you a checklist from your favorite version. Regardless of what version you use, when you look at the checklist do you respond the same way I do when I look at it. Every time I look at the list I respond the same way.
What an amazing description. Wow!
I CAN’T DO THAT!!!
And the reality is, we can’t.
I remember so clearly going through a really rough time. I was being mistreated. I had done everything I knew to do. I had forgiven. I had taken it to the cross. (Remember, I talked about processing hurt. If you haven’t read that post. I’ll share the link at the bottom of this post. )
Not feeling it.
But I wanted to do more than get through the situation. I wanted to respond with love. But I wasn’t feeling it. I know! I know! Love is more than a feeling.
I was struggling!
Yes, but my struggle was real. I know sometimes you do what’s right and the feeling comes later. I was doing that, but I knew I wasn’t walking in God’s best. (I wasn’t carrying His flame of love for sure!) So I prayed…and prayed…I ran out of words…so I prayed in the Spirit.
One morning as I was praying in the Spirit, I saw a picture in my mind of an oil refinery. I saw a tall tank and a smaller, fat, flat-topped round tank sitting beside it. Attached to the tall tank was something that looked like a pipe or a hose that was also attached to the smaller flat-topped tank. I heard God whisper, “If you’ll stay hooked up to me, I’ll give you some of mine.”
I had totally depleted my love.
I had no more love to give, so God gave me some of His!!!! You see 1 Corinthians 13 is a picture of the God kind of love. We can’t manufacture that kind of love. It only comes from God. But the good part of this story is we don’t have to wait until we run out.
As we stay connected, we can receive God’s love on a regular basics. So, one of the roles of Precious Holy Spirit is to pour His love into our heart…so His love can flow through us!
Look at the last part of Romans 5:5 …because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
That’s how we do it! We receive His love!
Splash in it!
Dance in it.
Revel (make merry, have a party)
Giggle and laugh in it. (Isn’t that what rejoice means?)
give it away!
but in power
Paul said powerfully what I am struggling to say…
1 Thessalonians 1:5 NLT
For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true. And you know of our concern for you from the way we lived when we were with you.
That’s the cry of my heart! Oh Lord! Help us to carry the flame of your love into places where there is hopelessness. Help us to demonstrate your love in practical ways so your name will be gloried! Amen.
Here’s the links I promised. Olympic Torch
What I learned when the Olympic torch came to Jacksonville Processing Pain (Let me give you two links. I talk about this subject a lot.)