Neon lights are great. They are colorful, flashy, clever, and fun. Neon says, “The party starts here!” Debbie and I found a gas station tonight on a long, empty highway, because it was lit up like a big neon blue Christmas tree. Neon grabs the eye, draws attention, and draws people in.
But neon lights don’t generate any substantial heat. They are no help at all on a cold night. And neon lights are always competing with each other, trying to be better and brighter and flashier. The bigger the light, the bigger the draw. They exist for show.
A fire is nothing special to look at. Sure, it starts out looking great, with big flames licking the air and a steady stream of snaps, crackles, and pops cracking out of the wood. It doesn’t take long for the fire to burn down to a pile of dimly glowing coals. It’s no longer flashy or fun to look at. It can be a little boring.
But that pile of coals provides heat, sometimes more heat than the flashy, fiery part. A pile of coals will continue to burn during the night with a constant warmth that comforts and sustains those around it. It’s not very bright, it’s not showy, and as far as colors go, it’s pretty monotonous. But the heat it provides lasts.
Churches can choose to be neon lights or campfires. Both are lights in the darkness, both draw people in. But one focuses on show, while the other sustains. Which will you be, a neon church, or a fire church?