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Passing the Torch

This past Sunday I was speaking on a “24 Karat Friendship” that was formed between Jesse Owens and Luz Long during the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin. Another interesting thing about the 1936 Olympics was the very important and significant first torch relay beginning in that year where the flame was lit in Olympia and the torch was passed from Greece all the way to Germany. Ever since, this momentous occasion has continued to start off the Olympic games. One of my favorite torches that was designed was the Olympic torch of 2018, where Korean designer Young Se Kim set out to created something that would inspire happiness in all those who behold it, and to as he expressed confidence “that the flame will truly ‘Let Everyone Shine’ and spark passion and excitement.” This particular torch was designed so that the flame will continue to burn in all weather conditions, and that will withstand the strong winds and heavy snowfall that can be expected in the Republic of Korea.

The passing of the Olympic torch (actually the flame of the torch that is passed) from one relay runner to the next until the cauldron is finally lit at the next Olympic site is quite amazing. The “passing of the torch” is a pretty good metaphor for life. The very words of what the torch was meant to accomplish in INSPIRING A GENERATION, to BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER, to SPARK PASSION AND EXCITEMENT… a torch that was made for ALL WEATHER CONDITIONS… all of that really got me thinking and how we can apply this spiritually.

We as our own generation MUST PASS THE TORCH. Let me first submit to you that the torch designed for the Olympics will NOT last over time, however the torch that we will be considering that truly has the ability to spark passion, excitement, can inspire a generation from all walks of life, to bring happiness/joy, and can sustain through all strong winds / rain of life and still burn bright is the BIBLE, the word of God.

This takes on added significance when are talking about faith. Each generation has the responsibility to pass on the truth to the next generation. God has not designed faith to be something that can be passed along genetically, it must be done personally. If we do not actively pass along the faith, its flame will die. It has been rightly said, “Christianity is potentially only one generation away from extinction.” As the Olympic torch was being carried from one location to the next and being handed off to the next person, it held significance for the one carrying and also the one who would receive and carry it on to the next. The handoff is so incredibly important as well as keeping the torch lit during the journey. The actual TORCH IS NOT HANDED OFF, RATHER it is the FLAME OF THE TORCH THAT IS HANDED OFF. So, before one can hand the torch, he must have it in the first place with the FLAME STILL BURNING! With this in mind, there was a very serious situation before the Israelites. As we know from our Old Testament studies, the Israelites had completed wandering in the wilderness for forty years as God told them they would wander for forty years. Moses’ death would draw nigh and Joshua would be the one who would take up the leadership and would lead the Israelites across the Jordan River into the Land that was promised to them by God. 

There were still many obstacles that they would come up against. How would they overcome these obstacles, how would the young be able to secure their heart, to carry the torch as these things would come upon them in their generations as well. God provides them with the torch, that would be the only thing that could spark passion, excitement, inspire a generation, to sustain them through all that would be encountered on their journey. 

God tells the people of Israel to hold the torch as they observed the word of the Lord and His commands, and to pass that torch in teaching His word to their children, the generations that would follow them!

The words we find in Deuteronomy 6:1-25 truly serve to us today as a REMINDER. In verses 4-5, “Hear, O Israel!  The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”  The words can be so easy to flow from our lips, but it REALLY IS A CHALLENGE not only for ourselves, but also to pass this torch to the generation following us. The world around us is full of darkness and cold and wicked; this is URGENT what is being said today just as the message that Moses gave in his time.

The Olympic torch making its journey from one location to another, from one person to another, what is called “the handoff” is really important. But the one to do the handoff MUST have the torch to begin with and the flame MUST BE BURNING. In Deuteronomy 6 Moses tells them that THEY are to pass the torch, and to do so, THEY MUST FIRST HAVE THE TORCH THEMSELVES and BE BURNING which is indicative of  A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.  Moses says that it was imperative that they demonstrated as to what it means to believe in the one true God and His word.  The torchbearers in the Olympics demonstrated by how they carried the torch, how they held the torch. It was held in such a way that they could keep the flame burning and would do whatever possible to keep the flame going. This is of upmost importance! Let’s apply this to our faith. We can say all we want to about the generations that are coming up. It is our desire for the generations who come after us to RESPECT THE WORD OF GOD, TO LOVE THE LORD, TO BELIEVE, TO OBEY THE LORD.  Yes, that is what we want. But let me submit to you where it begins torchbearers, it begins with you and with me!

Moses said in verse 6: “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.”  Moses says that this starts with YOU! He says that I as an individual MUST first DEDICATE, DEVOTE, COMMITT MY HEART TO GOD.  My friends, before I can pass the torch (that is the flame) to the next, MY TORCH MUST BE LIT. If I want my children to love the Lord, then I better be showing them what that means through my life as I hold my torch high above my head with the flame glowing BRIGHT! This means that I need to learn as much as I can about my God, showing that burning desire of wanting to know more about my Lord and how I can grow closer unto Him. We have such a HUGE task in carrying this torch, in demonstrating what it means to have a relationship with God. If I am NOT excited about the Gospel, if I am NOT excited about worshiping God, if I don’t see the necessity of coming every opportunity to assemble, if I don’t see the true worth and value in studying the word of God, then the generations coming up will NOT see it either and will NOT care for it!

Simply put, we must demonstrate in our lives and actually pass the torch in teaching, in word and in deed. When Moses was speaking of the words that he had received from God, Moses says, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” (7). All of these words are about ACTION!!!

There is a lot of information in the text, and I would encourage you to study more in this chapter and make some applications for your life today.  What I wanted to accomplish is simply for us to understand that for the flame to be passed on to the next, I must be a torchbearer whose torch is still lit. It will not do me any good if I just walk around with the torch. I must show and demonstrate my love and passion for MY GOD in the relationship that I have with Him. Then and only then, will I be able to light another to carry the torch to the next.

Something to think about. Have a great week! – DJ 🙂

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DJ Dickerson

Evangelist | La Porte Church of Christ

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