Word on Fire

Paul writes to Timothy

'I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you'
(2Tim 1:6)

so, to help the church with this, we offer this brief word, because

“Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord'
(Jeremiah 23:29)

Olympic Shame 2008

If you watched the opening ceremony of the XXIII Olympic Games in Athens you were treated to an extravaganza of colour, texture, and movement. Some might say it surpassed even the sensational Sydney show of four years previous. What an experience it must have been for the seventy-two thousand crammed into the stadium! But to the observant Christian all the beauty of the opening ceremony, the lavish demonstration of mankind's development, the exultation of achievement in the sporting arena, surely was overshadowed by the demonic overtones.
Masked within the sequence of a 'history' of mankind from the perspective of Greek mythology, a procession of false gods were presented for our praise, set forth for the worship of the gathered people and of the world-wide audience. To a theological thinker, to a person viewing from a mind set on the word of God, in Greek the logos tou theou, the unspoken aim of the ceremony and of the Games was laid before us even before the procession began.
Immediately following the spectacular and now obligatory firework display came an exciting drum duet. Initiated by a drummer whose presence was manifested high in the air on a huge screen, representing 'gods' in the heavenly realms, the beat was responded to by a drummer on the ground, representing humanity. The drum beats grew more and more furious, more and more intense, symbolising a unifying of the heartbeats of humanity and false gods, at which point the fire fell. Appearing out of the dark night sky as a fire from the heavens at the pleasure of the supernatural initiator, the flame lit up the interlocking circles of the Olympic symbol in a representation of earth echoing the life given from spiritual realms.
How sad that such a wonderful spectacle should be clouded by demonic imagery! So careless that ungodly minds should, within a landmark occasion in the lives of so many people, present a message of occult surrender. Yet ironically, what a reminder that our God is the only true God! In a modern parallel of the biblical account of Elijah and his conflict with the prophets of Baal on Carmel, the false gods were granted power only by the conception of the minds of foolish men. The Greek mythological 'god', from whom the heart's drumbeat and the heavenly fire proceeded, had to be 'conjured up' by the ceremony's presenters on a screen! How unlike our God, who though unseen, is real and true and ever-present. How ironic that, like Baal, there could be no response of fire without the machinations of men! How unlike Almighty God, who himself is a 'consuming fire' and who puts his unquenchable flame within the hearts and minds of his children by his Word and his Holy Spirit.
Let me stress that I'm not trying to put a wet blanket over the Games. As a keen sports fan and former athlete I'll be watching more than most. But as we watch, as we rightly marvel at the achievements of body, soul, and human spirit in the triumphs and tragedies displayed before us, let us not lose sight of one important truth. We live in the midst of a battle for our minds and feelings, in which the Devil and his angels are doing what the Devil always tries to do - to deceive us. So many times God asks the Old Testament Prophets 'what do you see?'. As Christians we have 'the mind of Christ' and are commanded to 'test the spirits', to 'take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ', to put on 'the helmet of salvation'. Let us affirm what is to be affirmed, and let us confront what is to be confronted. Let every situation, every action, every image, word, and sentiment be used to lead us closer and closer to fullness in our likeness of Christ, who is God made flesh, and a fire to lead and empower us in this life and on into eternity.