The torch has become an important metaphor of missionary work and church planting for me. In different ways the torch displays what it signifies to be a follower and disciple of Jesus.

The fire is kindled with oil of the Holy Spirit

First, a torch is not useful if it has no oil or if the flame is not burning. This symbolizes the need of repentance and faith in Christ. When the fire is kindled you warm yourself, get to know yourself and  you get to know Christ in a personal relationship. Moreover, you continually need to refill your torch with oil, which symbolizes the fullness of the Holy Spirit in your live.

The wick must always be trimmed

Secondly, the torch smokes a lot if the wick is not well-trimmed. In my opinion, this signifies recognizing wrong patterns or obstacles to the work of God in your personal life. There is a need for confession and distancing yourself from wrong paths. In that way the wick might become a channel for the oil. This process of trimming your wick, requires to live daily in the Presence of God.

You carry the torch together

Next, what I really like about the metaphor of the torch is that followers of Christ are not meant to carry the torch alone. You do this together with many other Christ followers. Torches spread much more light if you walk together. Besides that, you might keep an eye on each other’s flame, which is a symbol of taking care of each other. “Hey, your torch smokes a lot!” or “Is your flame not about to go out?”. You might take responsibility for each other: “Do you still have enough oil?”

The torch is meant to burn in the dark

Finally, the most important reason why the torch is such a beautiful symbol, is that a torch only really makes sense when it is dark. Christians are not meant to stay at the places where the light already brightly shines. Is it not God’s desire that we go to the darkest places? Especially these places where it is difficult to stay and where you maybe pay a price because of living a Christlike life? If you do not take the burning torch to dark places, where the light of Christ is not yet present, what is the point of having your torch burning? What a privilege is it to kindle the flame in another torch, a torch of someone who was used to live in the dark! In that way you might share what you received yourself by grace and pass it on with gratitude to others. God is worthy many more torches being kindled in Europe!

Read here more about the practical implications of the metaphor of the torch for discipleship.

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