The burning church

The burning church

Recently we saw a large part of the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris go out in smoke.  When the pinnacle collapsed, thousands of people gathered around this almost thousand-year-old monument. 

Most of the stunned onlookers shouted as the central tower disappeared in the middle of gigantic flames in a huge smoke that hid it.People were sobbing with tears.

Many were heartbroken because of religious attachment, others because of cultural, historical and sentimental heritage. In all this, it appears that a church in the throes of fire has succeeded in bringing together tens of thousands of people without distinction of faith, believers and non-believers, all gathered in the same sadness.

This fire has sparked off others, that of economic solidarity, and that of a shared purpose, bringing together people who previously had nothing in common. I asked myself a question, what if we were to spiritually "burn" our church? Would we be able to get all Adventist believers to agree? Would we all act in harmony?

There are two ways to "burn" the church. One is when we start criticizing: “the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!” (James 3.5 NKJV). We can burn the church of our God because of our criticism. This method manages to bring people together around a “fire”, but not in a good way. Division settles in when opposing groups arise, and give worse results than a real fire.  

In the Bible, we find several examples where spiritual "flames" make the people of God react. Gathering around the Scriptures triggers another type of fire in us as soon as Jesus becomes our personal Master. He lights a small inner flame. “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24.32 NKJV).

If we fix our eyes on Jesus and his Word, this little flame grows, to such an extent that our whole being becomes an unbearable fire. We will make ours the experience of Jeremiah: “His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not.”(Jeremiah 20.9 NKJV).

Finally, Hebrews 1:7 tells us that God makes "his servants a flame of fire". Those who serve Christ become inflamed with the Holy Spirit to place themselves at the service of others and the Church. This is how his Church can be “set on fire” and gather thousands of people attracted by a very different fire. Each one is a part of the church. If everyone is on fire to serve God and neighbour, we will see a united church capable of attracting people and conciliating, but animated by a very different Spirit than a physical fire can generate. 

by Pedro Torres

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