Why are we fighting this fire?

The entertainer Billy Joel has had a long and storied career. The singer has a boatload of hit songs and albums since his younger days in the mid 1970’s.

And for guys out there let’s be honest – we were jealous when he married former supermodel Christie Brinkley. Why do superstar singers and musicians…well, let’s not go there…

But Joel had so many memorable, chart topping tunes. It’s quite a list, remember these?

Piano Man (his first big hit)

Just the Way You Are (our friend Scott’s personal favorite)

Only the Good Die Young (which got our Catholic friends all wound up in a tizzy)

Movin’ Out

It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me

Tell Her About It

Uptown Girl

And so many more. Interesting that only three made it to Number One – Tell Her About It, It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me…

And then a tune that you may remember for its look at 20th century history in a blazingly fast way, people and events sung in a blur.

We Didn’t Start the Fire was an amazing song from 1989 – good luck trying to keep up with Joel as he flew through topics at warp speed. One stanza…

Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again
Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock
Begin, Reagan, Palestine, terror on the airline
Ayatollah's in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan

And he was veritably yelling by the time he got to the end of each stanza. And then the chorus…

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning, since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No, we didn't light it, but we tried to fight it

What a curious four lines, sung over and over throughout the tune.

And why are we fighting the fire?

If you missed it, this past Sunday marked Pentecost. That’s the holiday from Acts when Jesus’ disciples, now apostles, received the gift of the Holy Spirit…

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. – Acts 2:1-4 NIV

Remember the story? Others were there with them and they got quite a sight…

When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” – Acts 2:6-12 NIV

All the areas of the known world to those gathered – each heard the apostles speaking in their own language. What does this mean??

But in our times or theirs, someone always has a quick scientific explanation…

Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.” – Acts 2:13 NIV

Could someone please find out who the vintner was for the apostles? I’ll make an online order right now.

Then Peter suddenly found his voice. The wine? No, we’re not drunk he said. And he went on to quote prophecy from the Old Testament that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed the Son of God with the power to save all who believe.

The crowd gathered was stunned at what they had witnessed, so much so that an incredible 3,000 people were baptized into the faith that very day.

We could easily say that Peter and his mates were on fire that special day. The “tongues of fire” that rested on each of them after the wind blew through the house. Peter’s sudden courage in speaking publicly about Christ and the fulfillment of promises made long ago. All of these men were ignited into action that eventually led them to the corners of the earth.

That fire still burns 2,000 years later…or does it?

Let’s go back to Billy Joel’s musical stanza…

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning, since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No, we didn't light it, but we tried to fight it

Our belief in the Holy Trinity is that God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were all there at the beginning, since the world’s been turning. They started the fire of life and it’s always been burning.

So why are we trying to fight it?

Makes no sense…but check the headlines…

From 2020 - Religious Persecution Continues to Increase, Threatening All Believers

From 2019 - Is There Christian Persecution in America?

From 2019 - Christian persecution not just happening overseas -- many in US targeted for their faith, too

Yes, do some more digging and you’ll come across what’s called the Evangelical Persecution Complex. Probably tied to too much wine, it even has a fancy title.

And perhaps they’re right – we American Christians just feel picked on, perhaps from years of allowing the fire to be fought inch by inch until we realize that all that water of secularism has the flame down to smoldering embers.

So it’s up to us if we’ll allow that fire to go out. This pandemic has literally closed churches and other places of worship for over 14 months now. That’s like putting a fire hose to the faith.

But the funny thing about a fire – if it doesn’t go out completely it has a habit of bursting forth again. Ask any firefighter about sometimes needing to go back to a site of a blaze because the fire started up again.

Perhaps this is our chance in history to reignite the fire of the Lord. As we finally begin to emerge from a year of safety isolation, this is the time to share the warmth of the teachings of Jesus during these challenging times.

It all starts with just coming (back) to church again. It’s about picking up your Bible for some overdue reading. It’s about talking about Christ, sharing your faith with others, inviting people to join you for church on Sunday morning or at other times. Like a Boy Scout starting a campfire, it begins small and slowly builds as we add more kindling.

Be that kindling. Help the fire to restore itself, one that warms the soul and all those gathered around it. Light it, don’t fight it.

From George Churchgoer