I own a coffee roaster and a small coffee roasting business. The secret to roasting great coffee is controlling the flame. The roaster uses real fire to heat a turning and churning stainless steel drum. As the drum turns and churns the coffee beans, the heat from the flames begins to warm the beans; then it begins to steal the moisture from the beans; then it begins to roast the beans; until, finally, the beans crack, bursting from the pressure of the heat-induced roasting.
In a similar manner, the Enemy appears to have a strategy: attack the children of God with fire until they crack under the pressure of the heat. All the world over, the old Defrauder and his minions set fire to church buildings hoping to cause us Christians to crack, to break apart. But God always has His hands near the flames, saying to His people:
The flame shall not hurt you, I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
Christian churches are burning somewhere in the world every single day. Last year, there was a slate of church burnings in Ethiopia. This year, Nigeria is, literally, a hot spot, as Boko Haram is seeking to do the Devil’s bidding by ridding the landscape of its Christian presence. Even here in America, evil has its minions working against the church. Did you know that two dozen or more churches may be burned in America in any given month?
Over the past month or so, fires have been set intentionally at churches in Massachusetts; in Lufkin, Texas; in Savannah, Georgia; and in Potomac Heights, Maryland. The strategy is tried in America just as in the rest of the world, and the result is the same. God uses the flames as a master roaster uses his flame to bring forth a glorious new reality that would not have happened without the heat.
Here is the glorious reality of God’s design for the devil’s flame: It strengthens the church. And here is how that happens. Think of it this way. There is a fire that destroys and a fire that inspires. The fire that inspires is more glorious, more powerful, and more all-consuming than any fire the enemy can muster. In a sense, his little fires are cheap imitations of the ultimate reality spoken of in Hebrews 12:29, “Our God is a consuming fire.”
The enemy can only cheaply imitate and threaten with that which is not at all glorious. He burns our buildings, but God Himself fires our souls. God’s fire is the one which lasts. This is why when church buildings are burned, the building is destroyed yet the church is strengthened, edified, built up in love, and more sober-minded than before. The church need not fear an enemy with a candle when she is already pursuing the fire that fuels a thousand suns.
- Merry Christmas from the Episcopal Church (juicyecumenism.com)
- Cape Cod church fire ruled arson; suspect arrested (bostonherald.com)
- Fire At Charles County Church Ruled Arson (praisedc.com)
“The church need not fear an enemy with a candle when she is already pursuing the fire that fuels a thousand suns.”