Do not put out the Spirit’s fire. (1 Thessalonians 5:19, NIV)
Paul is talking to Thessalonian Christians, people who know the power of God working in their lives: They are living to please God (4:1). They have been taught by God (4:9). They are encouraging each other (5:11). And they are standing firm in the Lord (3:8).
This is a model church. It is Paul’s joy (2:19), and yet at the end of the letter, he says to these people: “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire.”
God was doing something wonderful among these people. The gospel came to them not only in words, but with power, with the Holy Spirit, and with deep conviction. The life of Christ was being reproduced in these people. The fire of the Holy Spirit was burning.
Paul was concerned that in some way this flame would be “put out,” that the work God was doing in this place would be doused, like a person throwing a bucket of water over a barbeque grill. Can that really happen in a church? Yes, it can.
If you have the chance to visit London, it’s worth making a visit to Madame Tussauds. It’s a fascinating collection of life-sized wax models of famous people. You can have your picture taken next to John F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, the Beatles, the Queen, Henry the 8th, or Brittany Spears! It looks like real life, but it is only wax.
It can be like that in the church – the appearance of life – but no fruit, no fragrance of Christ, and no heat. That’s the church without the Spirit.
Do you think it’s possible for you to put out the Spirit’s fire?