Taylor and I have been attending a Monday night house church since we moved back to Houston. It has been a great community of young adults to fellowship and walk with, and recently I began hosting a podcast for the church since there are locations currently in Houston, Dallas, and Malawi. The first episode, I interviewed my longtime friend who began The Abode named Austin Rumpel and he mentioned his desire for The Abode to be like a community of campfires which struck me. It struck me because as I began to think about what that meant, I realized this is the heart for the church as a whole. What does it mean to be a campfire community?
A campfire is a welcoming presence.
Think about the things that can be done with a campfire. It can provide warmth in the cold and can also be used to cook a hot meal. When we as the Abode have positioned our communities as campfires, we are a welcoming place for anyone to come in. A community which resembles a campfire is one that people who are hurting feel welcomed and comforted through times of hurt. Paul says in Romans 12:11-3 “Never let the fire in your heart go out. Keep it alive. Serve the Lord. When you hope, be joyful. When you suffer, be patient. When you pray, be faithful. Share with God’s people who are in need. Welcome others into your homes.” When you have the fire of the Holy Spirit burning inside of you then you welcome others. It is a hospitable presence to serve and host, as is portrayed through offering hot meals and a warm place to sleep.
A campfire gives light in the darkness.
Jesus says in Matthew 5:14-6 “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” We live in a dark and broken world and our community should stand out. We as individuals should stand out. Jesus says that his followers would be known by the way that they love others. Do we live lives so radically that we are known? Do we live lives that shine as different and changed in a world of darkness? Darkness is actually the absence of light. If a light is lit in the darkness, no matter how dark it is, it will still shine through. No matter how dark it is around us, when we are living in Christ and he is shining out of us it will be noticed.
A campfire can be used as a signal.
The Great Wall of China was built long before telephones were invented to help prevent an invasion of China. Whenever a threat attempted to penetrate the Great Wall, the closest tower would light a fire and then every other tower would light their fires as well. Not only should our communities shine as campfires to the world, but it should be an uplifting encouragement to our brothers and sisters. Paul writes in his second letter to Timothy to rekindle the flame of faith which is inside him which was passed down from his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. Our faith should burn bright enough that it is passed to those closest to us and serves as an encouragement and as an uplift in our faith walk. Dietrich Bonhoeffer famously said in his classic Life Together that at some of our darkest times, we shine Christ in our brothers’ and sisters’ lives. So let your campfire be a signal to your brethren as well as a light in the darkness.
May we be communities of campfires in the world. Not just The Abode Church which Taylor and I are a part of, but Christians in general. We love to state the cliché “love the sinner and hate the sin,” but we often are known for the sins we hate and not the way we love those people. We are known for putting our own down and using them to lift ourselves up and not uplifting them. We are often known for trying to be over relevant to the culture to the point where we look no different than the world. Let us instead be campfire communities which shine as lights, offer hospitality and warmth to outsides, and encouragement to one another.