Poor sticks, grand conflagration
I came to cast fire on the earth. Luke 12:49
“The miracle of the early Church was a partial fulfillment of Christ’s expressed purpose about setting the earth on fire. . . . What we know is that it was the incendiary character of the early Christian fellowship which was amazing to the contemporary Romans and that it was amazing precisely because there was nothing in their experience that was remotely similar to it. Religion they had in vast quantities, but it was nothing like this. . . .
The metaphor of the fire would be meaningless without the fellowship, because it has no significance for merely individual religion, as it has none for merely ceremonial religion. Though it is, of course, impossible to have a committed church with uncommitted members, the major power never appears except in a shared experience. Much of the uniqueness of Christianity, in its original emergence, consisted of the fact that simple people could be amazingly powerful when they were members one of another.
As everyone knows, it is almost impossible to create a fire with one log, even if it is a sound one, while several poor logs may make an excellent fire if they stay together as they burn. The miracle of the early church was that of poor sticks making a grand conflagration.”
Elton Trueblood, The Incendiary Fellowship (New York, 1967), pages 107-108.
Hyper-individualistic Christianity, however intense and euphoric, does not catch fire. It is blazing churches, who stick together, that spread the prophesied fire.