“Is there any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a good fire?” –C.S. Lewis
As the cool, crisp, Fall air begins to mark the change of seasons, I tend to think of bonfires. Bonfires have taken on a deep meaning in my life. First, because of the many nights with family and friends spent around them. Because of the conversations, laughter, tears, introspective moments, and the sheer wonder of sharing life with others.
But second, bonfires have become metaphor for church. Most of my Christian friends, by now, have left the church. Many of them have probably abandoned the faith. Truth be told, if I was not firmly called to plant and pastor churches, I wonder if I would be on a similar path. I do not think so, but I wonder.
There have been many days where I have wondered about the church. Wondered if it was worth it. Wondered about the hurtful stories, the superficial relationships, the cliché sermons, the growth gimmicks, rote religion. Most of the time, I can bring myself back to the beauty of church. The new friendships, the presence of God, the deepening friendships, communal worship, hearing God speak to me through a sermon/brother/sister, seeing God touch a human heart through a community called the church, etc.
And so, bonfires have become a metaphor for church. Anyone who has sat around a good bonfire knows that a group of logs set ablaze can produce quite a fire. The logs play off one another. Each kindled by the other; each contributing to the fire. No one starts a bonfire with a single log.
Many of my friends see no purpose to church. And they have a long list of complaints (most legitimate) arguing why not to participate in church. But let me tell you what happens to a log that is taken out of the fire. It may stay warm for a period of time. But it inevitably grows cold.
Our faith is set ablaze by God. But it is kindled in the community of faith.
I have been around a number of churches for a number of years now. And I have never met a person ablaze with the Spirit of God who is not deeply committed to the community of faith (church). I simply have not seen it. But I have seen many close friends take their log out of the fire. They rarely intended for their faith to grow cold, but it inevitably did.
This Fall, may you find yourself around a good bonfire.