Candle Theology

The other night I lit a candle. Nothing out of the ordinary, the candle burned. Wow, I thought as I looked at the flame. It sure is interesting how that wick just doesn’t burn up. That flame will burn for hours without expiring. Then, I reflected how it is not that wick that is burning, it is the wax that is acting as the fuel. The wick is only allowing the fuel to burn brightly. In fact, if the wick were left to burn without the wax, it would burn up in a matter of seconds.

After lighting it, I had dropped the matchstick between the glass and the wax, and, “What do you know?” it acted as a wick itself and it burned for quite a while as it allowed the wax to climb up it and burn brightly. I was amazed and wondered if the heat that it was generating was as hot as the wick in the middle. I know, dumb move, but I touched the glass and, “ouch,” it was indeed hot.

 I felt pretty silly as I put ice on the forming blister and yet, I am only somewhat comforted by the fact that even people like Sir Isaac Newton also had momentary lapses of intellectual profundity. Newton apparently was so troubled by numerous visits of a cat and a kitten to his house that he decided it was necessary to facilitate their coming and going – he cut a large hole for the cat, and a small hole for the kitten!

But then I digress. After settling down, I began to examine the theological significance of “The Wick.” It is not the wick providing the energy; it is not the wick that is providing the light. The light is coming from the wax that is melted and moving throughout the fibers of the wick, and acting as fuel. It struck me as a metaphor of the Christian life; Jesus used metaphors often. In John 15:5 he says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Jesus is referring to us as branches. We are dependent on him for the life that is in us. Everything we produce is because of Him. We need him or we will not be able to bear fruit. Without him we can do NOTHING!

While at a friend’s house recently, I noticed a candle that had burned through and wax had flowed down the side. She said it was because the wick was defective. It tipped or burned too short and caused a hole to melt in the side of the candle. Indeed, it may have been defective, much in the same way we are when we are not obedient to our calling. If our lives are errant, if we are not abiding in Christ, he may not choose to do the work through us that he wants to. To paraphrase the verse, “I am the candle, you are the wick. Whoever abides in me and I in him, will burn brightly. Apart from me you will produce no light.”

2 Corinthians 4:7 reminds us to whom the power belongs.  “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” God can reveal his power through the fragile beings that we are. We may not be able to do much, but our honor is to stand straight, in the middle, burning brightly, and allowing him to flow through us.

Luke 11:33 says, “No one lights a lamp and then hides it or puts it under a basket. Instead, it is put on a lampstand to give light to all who enter the room.” And Matthew clears it up even more in 5:16 “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” 

Let your Light Shine! Let ‘em see His glory in you.