Fireworks and the Fourth of July go together. What would the Fourth be without fireworks? Millions of dollars are spent each year on these noisy, flashy, temporary and sometimes dangerous means of celebrating July 4. Many people think that fireworks and religion go together. Some Christians want a "fireworks religion." Jesus said, "My disciples will be lights or candles in a dark world." There is a definite difference!
Every time I pass a fireworks stand, I wonder about the various kinds of people it represents. Some folks are like firecrackers. You light them up, they go "pop" and they're gone. Noisy. Calling attention to themselves. Firecracker people "pop in" and "pop out" of church -- never getting to know the people or to figure out what the church is all about. Also, they often "pop off" about the church, a group they know little about. Firecracker people last only a short time, and then they're gone.
Roman candles: These people last a little longer, provide a beautiful display, and then they too are gone. Roman candle people will join the church, give off a flashy display of faith and then fade away. Perhaps the church wasn't what they expected. Maybe the cares and concerns of this world cause them to lose interest. Perhaps the Christian lifestyle is too demanding for them. Roman candle people don't have the staying power to become long-term followers of the Christ.
Sparklers: These folks last the longest and give off a dazzling display of light. Sparkler people have been members of the church for a long time. They faithfully live out their daily lives -- they "sparkle." But sometimes, the weight of years and the pressures of life cause these "sparklers" to lose their enthusiasm for Christ and his church; they no longer give off much light.
Candles: Candles last a very long time. Some candles are made so that they stay lit even during a thunderstorm. Candles also give off heat. Candle people give off a steady light day-after-day; their faith remains strong even through the severe storms of life. Candle people "glow"; their love and concern warm even the coldest heart. Candle people point others to Christ, the standard by which every life and every light will be measured.
"Fireworks Religion" is all some folks want. A religion that is noisy, flashy and temporary. Hopefully, we will choose to be candle people -- people who give off a steady glow that will last forever -- and who will provide the warmth of God's love to those who desperately need it. Shine on!
Don Kuehle is a retired United Methodist minister who lives in Jackson. Opinions expressed are those of the author.Religion on 07/05/2018
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