Carrying a Torch

At last, after a year of delay and pandemic, the 2020 Olympics has finally begun. Immense planning and organizing goes into hosting the Olympic Games. One of the immediate tasks undertaken is setting up a committee to plan the games. Among the functions of the Committee is choosing individuals to carry the Olympic Torch, i.e., “Torchbearers.”

Olympic torchbearers carry the torch from city to city, one handing it to the other, almost like passing the baton in a relay race. The torch is used to light the Olympic flame. Individuals chosen to carry the torch are people of accomplishment. They are individuals that the host country is proud to show off. Torchbearers are people that others would want to emulate; they are role models. It is a great honor to be chosen to carry the Olympic Torch.

As Christians, we are chosen to be His torchbearers. A torchbearer is a person who leads or inspires. We are to carry the torch which, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is something that is lit for illumination. Jesus is the Light of the World and we are to carry Him wherever we go. As His children, we are to shine so that those who do not know Him may come to know Him. (See WORD WISDOM for a deeper study of chosen)

There are some amazing parallels the Church can glean from the Olympic torch….ones that will fan the flames of God within us.

Each torch must be capable of withstanding wind, rain, sleet, snow and extremes of climate. It must carry enough fuel to last its leg of the journey but be light enough for each runner to carry comfortably. The writer of Hebrews tells us that we  “have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.” (Heb.10:36). Our torch-bearing ushers in His promise.

The original flame for any Olympic relay is still lit by the sun using a parabolic mirror. As a perfect reflection of the Father, it is Jesus, the Son, who lights our flame. John says,

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Matt.3:11)

A back-up flame is always carried alongside the relay in case a torch goes out. The Holy Spirit is called the “paraclete” in the Greek language of the New Testament. That word means “one who comes along side of.” He is always there to relight the flame. David declared that,

He is at my right hand and I shall not be moved (Ps.16:8).

The Olympic flame has been transported by plane, boat, underwater and even through space. It has been allowed in places where open flames are usually not allowed. We need to be the flame of God’s Light in places where He isn’t “allowed.” Just as the Olympic flame is lit and everyone can see it, so it should be with us. The Bible says,

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hidden. (Matt.5:14).

In ancient Israel, the priests were instructed not to let the fire on the altar go out. (Lev.6:9, 12-13). This required a lot of work, not the least of which was collecting firewood. Some scholars see the fire on the altar as a symbol for the flame of our devotion for the Lord. Spiritual passion is not something to be treated lightly or taken for granted. It will grow cold if we fail to keep it supplied with fuel.

The Apostle Paul addressed the subject of spiritual fervor in his letter to the Romans (Rom.12:1-2, 11). To keep the fire of our devotion burning strong, we must continue the hard work of stacking our fuel supply with hope, patience, steadfast prayer, generosity, hospitality and humility.

Like the Olympic torchbearers, we are also called to pass the torch. It is incumbent upon us as Christians to pass the torch from generation to generation. It is the duty of parents, Christian teachers, pastors, missionaries and all who call themselves Christians to ensure that the torch is passed on. Paul exhorts us to,

Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord. (Rom.12:11 AMP).

May we all take up the torch and carry it proudly and faithfully.

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