Burning for the wildfire of love

Warmth, light, and more: fire gives life—and spiritual fire gives spiritual life. What is needed in order to set hearts on fire? A divine service about the fire that Jesus Christ has ignited…

“A familiar passage that is only rarely used as the foundation for a divine service”—It was with these words that Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider introduced Luke 12: 49–50 in a divine service in Landquart, Switzerland on 11 February 2018: “I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to be baptised with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished!”

In the fire he saw a double image. “On the one hand, it is an image for the gospel, for the glad tidings, for the joyful message of mankind’s redemption through Jesus Christ.” On the other hand, “the fire also represents the Holy Spirit, who imparts this message to us and puts us in a position to believe in this message”.

The effects of fire

To begin with, the Church leader explained the five-fold effect of this fire:

  • the warmth of love: “The fire of the gospel brings warmth to mankind—the warmth of the love of God. God is love. He loves all human beings equally. He loves unconditionally.”
  • the light of knowledge: “Fire illuminates. The gospel and the activity of the Holy Spirit enable all human beings to distinguish between falsehood and truth, between good and evil. Human beings are thus able to recognise the purpose of their lives, namely to enter into fellowship with God. This light creates hope and illuminates the future.”
  • purification: “The fire of the gospel purifies. Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we can receive grace and forgiveness. The power of the Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to fight against sin, to sanctify ourselves, and to turn away from evil.”
  • unity: “Fire attracts and fire unifies. Jesus has come in order to unify people. He wanted to create unity among mankind.”
  • enthusiasm: “The image of fire is also an image for passion, enthusiasm, and joy. This fire of the gospel fills a person—and causes him to speak joyfully about his salvation and his future.”

Fuel for the fire

“If this fire is to burn within us, we must also follow the path of Jesus Christ’s baptism: this means that we must go through suffering and death,” said the Chief Apostle by way of explanation: “Now, this has nothing to do with natural death. We must simply give something, do without something. That is the fuel that allows this fire to burn within us.”

  • “We must take time—time for the divine service, but also time for prayer. We must likewise take time to occupy ourselves with the gospel.”
  • “We must distance ourselves from notions and ideas that are not consistent with the gospel.”
  • “We must put off those characteristics that do not correspond to the nature of Christ.”

When the fire goes out

“If we occupy ourselves with the future of mankind in this manner, we might at times ask ourselves how things would look for mankind without the gospel.” His answer:

  • “There would still be love that people would share. It might even be incredibly great, but at some point it would be limited by human imperfection. For this reason there will always be people who say, ‘I really do not have anyone who loves me anymore.’”
  • “If this gospel ceases to spread, there will be increasing insecurity. What is actually good and what is actually evil? You can already see this today.”
  • “Anyone can make a serious mistake. No one is immune from this. And then there would be no grace or forgiveness anymore! The burden of guilt would be unbearable.”
  • “Not to mention peace between human beings! We know this is something history has documented very well: without Jess Christ it is simply impossible to reconcile the differences between people and create unity.”
  • “Without the glad tidings, the joys of this world would be quite insignificant. At some point the bubble would burst, and then it would be evident that there was nothing more than sadness.”

“That is why it is so important that the gospel continues to spread—to our fellow human beings, to our descendants, to the next generation,” emphasised the Chief Apostle. “That is our responsibility. That is why we have been sent. We have been elected in order to spread this fire. It must leap from our hearts to other hearts.”

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Andreas Rother
Switzerland, Chief Apostle, Divine service