1 Kings 18:21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”
But the people said nothing.
This story is one of the most dramatic scenes in the whole Bible, and that’s really saying something. However, the question that Elijah asked the people is one that really needs to be put to a lot of people today. In traditionally Christian countries, vast numbers of people go through the motions without having any real faith, and so are easily distracted by their flesh and the world. I personally know someone who became a missionary, and then discarded Christianity and is now a Buddhist priest. He knew the culture well enough to fool the mission board, saying all the right words, but he didn’t, and doesn’t, have a relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord. I won’t go into what I think induced him to abandon true life, which is found in Christ alone, but sadly, he has a lot of company. The devil is a skilled liar, and he plays on human weaknesses all too well. The saddest thing is, though the people Elijah addressed came back to the Lord after fire fell from heaven, Revelation indicates that many will refuse to do so even with such signs as that. God is incredibly patient and merciful, but we must still face the consequences of our choices.
One of the biggest heartaches for any pastor is when people who have seemed to be genuine turn their backs on Christ. One particular young man stands out in my memory. He seemed very much on fire for the Lord, but when his father developed cancer and was not completely healed (though he lived several years despite having been given six months from the original diagnosis) the son decided it was all a lie (under the strong influence of his mother). We tend to do what he did, setting up tests for God and then if He doesn’t pass them, in our judgment, we abandon Him. How incredibly foolish! However, I know I am capable of that or worse, so I must not look down on people who are so deceived. I am to welcome whatever signs God provides and give Him glory for them, but not make my faith and obedience dependent on signs I set up in my mind. I need to be like Daniel’s friends, who proclaimed, “The God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18) They literally put their lives on the line, and I should do no less.
Father, You know better than I do that I haven’t been fully faithful to You even without major “excuses.” Thank You for Your patience and Your grace. Help me extend that patience and that grace to those around me, but at the same time be fully forceful and effective in drawing them to You. May their eyes be opened to see themselves and their situations accurately because they see You, so that they may repent and believe, and receive Your full salvation. Thank You. Hallelujah!