How do you put out a campfire? You kick the sticks, the logs, and the embers to spread them out.
How do you stoke a fire? You pile up and push together the sticks, the logs, and the embers.
Remove one of the sticks or logs from the fire and it will quickly go out. Pieces of burning wood need each other to keep burning.
This imagery of how to put out or build a fire has always helped me appreciate the value of other people to my own spiritual pilgrimage and faith walk. We live in a time when individuality is valued, perhaps over-valued. More and more we watch movies in our homes on DVD rather than going to a theater with a hundred other people. More and more we watch sports on TV with our wide screen TVs rather than going to the sporting event and watching it in person with thousands of others. Personal listening devices with the ever-present earphones allow us to be in our own little world with our music. Faith Popcorn, a trend forecaster, coined the phrase “cocooning” to describe this phenomena of going it alone.
We can do the same when it comes to our faith. We can content ourselves with watching a TV preacher, checking out a faith-based web site or reading a faith-focused blog like this one!
I know, being a part of a church, or even getting together with two or more other people who are serious about God can be messy business! People are so imperfect, so annoying, so hurtful, even so-called people of faith! Having pastored the same church for 33 years I know it’s not always easy getting along with others. But the price is worth it!
God created us to ultimately be social creatures. People need people. Jesus called twelve disciples to follow Him, and He didn’t call them to follow Him alone but together!
There are some spiritual realities we learn and some some spiritual ways we grow that can only happen when we put ourselves in close proximity to other people who also claim to want to learn and grow spiritually. If we want to catch fire spiritually and have a burning, passionate faith, we’re going to have to find some other people to do it with!
One of my favorite verses that applies to this subject is Hebrews 10:25. “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…”