As beautiful as it is, a candle-lighting service also contains a powerful, instructive imagery. We sit in the dark with cold, unlit candles. Our candles cannot make themselves burn; they must wait until the main candle is lit. From that one, the flame is passed, one to another, until the whole room is filled with light. When someone extends their burning candle toward mine, its heat soon lights my wick. Now heat and light emanates from my candle, allowing me to offer that flame to my neighbor. I cannot do so until I have received the light.
Think of that imagery, and chew on this:
We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
God’s kind of self-sacrificial love (agape love) does not exist in us when we are disconnected from His Spirit. We love those who love us, we love others when it benefits us in some way. But we know nothing of the type of love Jesus extended to us. As Paul wrote in Romans:
Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:7-8)
But if by faith, we accept His love, then we begin to love. We love, like a candle that shines because it was lit. It is not something we do out of obedience but something we do because our makeup has been changed. His Spirit is alive in us.
We love because He first loved us.
As we extend that love toward others, occasionally they, too, will receive the love of God and come to life. That’s what John means when he says God’s love is made complete in us. He gives it to us that we might give it to others.
No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (1 John 4:12)
Just like candles…