Elijah’s direction to Israel “Come near to me” (I Kings 18:30), reminds us of Jesus’ later command to “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Mat.11:28). In coming to Elijah, the people were coming to a visible representative of God Himself, Who wants to reveal Himself to them, through Elijah.
Elijah understands that first and foremost he is a servant of the Lord, with tasks to faithfully fulfill. There is no place for egotism here, let alone revenge, as there should be no place for egotism anywhere in the life of the believer. Paul directed us to
make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit… (Phil.2:2-3).
Every leadership position is thus a position of service, for we are called to “…through love serve one another” (Gal.5:13). Paul told the Romans, that he was “…going to Jerusalem serving the saints” (Ro.15:25). The godless norm of leaders who are competitive, jockeying for position, prestige, prominence and power, should not be seen in the church.
Is this too much to ask? No.
When it became evident that the mother of Zebedee was trying to gain a preferment for her sons, Jesus challenged the disciples. He said that
…You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many (Mat.20:25-28).
John identified this problem in the early church. In his third epistle, he explained that
I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church (III Jn.9-10).
This problem has perennially resurfaced in the church, most commonly when the church takes no notice of its budding leaders’ backgrounds and tendencies, and doesn’t select them on the basis of scriptural teaching, found in places such as I Tim.3:1-13, and Titus 1:5-9. If we did this carefully and scripturally, we’d have a lot less problems with leaders who only prove to be hirelings and wolves, preying on the sheep.
But now that Elijah is established as a proven prophet, God sends him forth to challenge the prophets of Baal (I Kings 18:20-46), and there would only be one winner from this confrontation. Thus the church must be prepared to immerse itself in its scriptural responsibilities, show itself to be faithful to these, and trust God to bring along further opportunities of service, and dominion. They will surely come.
How can we know this? Because
power flows to those who takes responsibility.
Our Lord Jesus showed Himself to be faithful to His Father in three and a half years of ministry. After His resurrection, he declared that
All authority has been given to Me in heaven and in earth (Mat.28:18).
There won’t be a lot of human glory in caring for widows and orphans successfully, but it is a great way for the church to get grounded in the practical problems of needy people, beginning with its own. This is something the state has promised a lot about, and never done well, though it jacked up tax rates to unheard of levels, to pay for it. But it’s something the church has done a lot of, over two thousand years. If we include Israel’s history, we could say three and a half thousand years.
While we are on this planet, it is a matter that won’t go away. Are you ready to immerse yourself in this task?
A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, is God in His holy habitation (Ps.68:5).