1 Kings 18, Amos 2
Do you ever feel like it’s “me against the world”? For those who are obsessed with autonomy and self-realization (which stands atop Maslow’s hierarchy of needs), it always seems like, once we get a grip on what we feel is important in life, we get attacked from all sides. Why can’t we just be ourselves, and have other people leave us alone? (Even 2Pac felt that way.)
Well, if you’re a Christian and you’re reading this, which is highly likely, you know there’s a whole ‘nother level of shenanigans going on. I’m convinced that Christians are involved in constant spiritual warfare , and that’s really the foundation of it all — fortunately, we have the God of all things that has the upper hand.
On the conscious level, however, the odds are certainly not in the favor of the Christian. And while that might seem a bit schizophrenic or delusional nature, it might be worth noting that it’s always been this way from the beginning.
I went to CSU East Bay, which is near the epicenter of Silicon Valley and progressive thought. Thinking is good — I’m a big fan of it — but I constantly presume that the Lord is wiser than I’ll ever be. That was a real problem to the majority of people I went to school with who were convinced there is no God, or that no one has it right and all religions are kind of the same thing if you remove the extreme ideals.
The problem is Jesus, really. Jesus is the center of Christianity, and He’s difficult to marginalize or eliminate because He doesn’t really let you. While some people might think the world is against them, for a Christian who adheres to Jesus Christ, the opposition is at an entirely different level.
Sure, most are a bit indifferent. They think, “Well, that’s your thing. I have my thing. We’re good, right?” And yeah, I don’t have a problem with that. They’ve decided that Jesus isn’t for them. Unfortunately, Jesus doesn’t really leave room for grey areas at all. And that bothers a lot of people. Even purported Christians.
Jesus was familiar with opposition. Jesus once says something so controversial that most of His followers take off. He’s left with a few scrubby guys as His posse, who eventually scurry away as well once they realize their lives are being threatened. He also faces constant scrutiny and death threats. It’s not exactly the kind of life you would expect from a s
In our reading today, we find out that Elijah is also the overwhelming minority on two occasions. The more obvious example is when he stands as one prophet of the Lord versus 950 prophets of Baal. For you stat guys, that’s a 99.89% majority. Amazingly, he manages.
But we forget about King Ahab, the reigning king of Israel at the time, who confronts Elijah with the following address:
“Is that you, O troubler of Israel?”
Israel is in a state of apostasy during Ahab’s reign; much of the nation is busy worshiping Baal, and Elijah is an enemy to Ahab’s cause.
But it’s not that bad compared to today, is it?
In the U.S., we complain about the complacency of our country regarding its foundational Christian principles, but it’s actually far worse than you think. Gallup says 78% of the country identifies with Christianity, which sounds great, but only 40% of them say they regularly attend church (which is a lie— it’s more like 20%). And really, how many of those people regularly attending church are actually saved? We don’t know, but a lifestyle that reflects Christ will bear that kind of fruit — and frankly, even within church, that’s hard to find.
In the book of Amos, God is not happy with Israel, yet again. This time, it’s a little different: instead of the usual idol worship routine, Israel has been making the poor, destitute, and impressionable type stumble for their personal gain. They even influence a group of people who abstain from wine to drink some. It appears that the faithful even find enemies in their own camp.
Jesus said the gate would be narrow, but how narrow? It isn’t specified in the passage, but the definitions stand alone — what if it were only a person wide, and people enter the kingdom of heaven single file? It’s possible.
Do not compromise. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, and you are convinced that He did, in fact, die for your sins, and that He rose again, conquering death and thereby granting us access to eternal life, keep it up. Right now, the opposition outnumbers you, and enemies are even in the same row of chairs you sit in every week.
But be of good cheer, and stand firm. You will make it, and you’re never alone fighting it out. That’s a promise.