There are two kinds of fire we use at church: candles and charcoals. There is a major difference between these two kinds of fire. Fire is something external to the candles; only the wick at the top burns. Fire is something internal to the charcoals. It is harder to get a charcoal going than a candle, but, once it is lit, every bit of a charcoal burns at once. Wind has different effects on each type of fire. When we carry a candle outside, we have to hold our hands around it, and still the wind will come up from behind and blow the candle out. Charcoal, however, cannot be blown out. The more the wind blows, the more the charcoal glows red-hot; the fire is increased by the wind.
There are two kinds of Christians in the Church: candles and charcoals. There is a major difference between these two kinds of believers. The Holy Spirit is something external to candles; only a little part of their life is burning with love. The Holy Spirit is something internal to charcoals. God’s grace is at work in us to get the charcoal going, to have every part of our lives on fire. Suffering and persecution has a different effect on each type of fire. Candles are always in danger of going out; the pastor has to keep a careful watch on them, and still some idea will blow in from somewhere and the fire of the candle blows out. Charcoals, however, cannot be blown out. The more they are threatened, the more they believe; their love is increased by suffering.
King Nebuchadnezzar threatened Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He became furious. If they were candles, the love of God would have been blown out under such threats. Instead the three men say, “If our God whom we serve can deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; may he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up.” Their faith was absolute. Their love was all-consuming. We should pray and work so that we can become charcoals like them. In truth, we are all candles trying to become charcoals. May the blazing fire of God’s love consume every part of us, destroying what is unworthy, leaving behind red-hot coals, indistinguishable from the fire itself.