Step 8: Are looking closely at the lives of famous men and women of the Bible who turned out to be ordinary sinners like us.
Elijah was, by many accounts, the greatest prophet the nation of Israel ever had. He represented the word of the Lord in a time of great apostasy. But he was also a lonely man, prone to great depression. At a time following his most astounding victory, when he defeated 450 prophets of the Canaanite god, Baal, he ran for his life when he heard that the wicked Queen Jezebel had put a price on his head. Even the success of his greatest achievement could not overcome his fear and depression, and in that desperate moment, while hiding in the mountains, he prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” (1 Kings 19:4) And the next verse says he lay down under a bush and slept. This was not the sleep of peace or of victory, it was the sleep of denial. Elijah was utterly defeated after his greatest victory.
Have you ever felt like checking out? Don’t you find it somewhat comforting when you find out how human these guys were?
As the story goes, an angel of the Lord woke him up and provided him with food and water. Twice. (He went back to sleep the first time.) And then, strengthened by that, he traveled for forty days and forty nights until he came to Mount Horeb, “the mountain of God,” where Moses had received the Ten Commandments. Here he hid in a cave until the Lord himself came to him, not in the wind, not in the earthquake, not in the fire, but in a still small voice, and He whispered to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
“I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
And how does God respond to this depressed martyrdom? He gives him an assignment to go anoint the next king and the next prophet, Elisha, and then says, almost as an afterthought, “Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel — all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19:18)
In other words, Elijah, you’re not the only one. I’ve got seven thousand people out there like you. They haven’t bought the lie. They know I am the only God. They have not gone with the cultural flow around them. Anoint another king and find Elisha, because we’re moving on. I will not abandon my people. I will bring them through.
We live in a time where it seems Christianity is everywhere. Christians have entertainment, influence in the White House and political clout. But is this the church? Is the church on the corner the same as the church in heaven? Is everything that calls itself Christian devoid of idolatry, or have Christians gotten too intimate with the gods of this world like power, wealth and prestige? Have they sold the gospel out to issues that would increase their strength in numbers only?
We believe there is another generation coming into influence in the world that is like God’s 7,000 who have not kissed the idol. They don’t want cultural Christianity; they want Jesus. They want a faith that is relevant to the world around them. They don’t want a Christian alternative, they want to be alternative Christians in the midst of a Christianity that sold out to the values of the world that seeks power over people rather than to serve them with power under people. They are prone to depression because they read their Bibles and see something different than what they see in the churches around them. Similarly, this same group believes the church considers their doubts, pressing life questions, emotional issues and depression as trivial.
They tend to think they are alone. Yet God has His own secret force of followers who have not bowed to the gods of the age or kissed the cultural idols
They remind me of us, 40 years ago, and indeed, it can be shown that what sociologists call the Millennials, age 18-29, are very similar in substance and value to those of us 40 years or more older. There is basically no generation gap. There is a new revolution, and we can recognize the signs everywhere. We see them here at the Catch.
Without solicitation, the Catch has been attracting people between 18-29 who grew up in the church but no longer attend for a variety of reasons. They tell us they like the Catch because it leads with Grace. They call the Catch their “Church” because it is open 5 days a week with independent study opportunities around the clock. They say the Catch contributes to the change they want to see in the world.
These believers are intelligent, capable individuals who want better, deeper partnerships with older and wiser adult Christians. They require a more holistic understanding of how their faith influences what they do with their lives. And they also need help discerning Jesus’ leading in their life, including greater commitment to knowing and living the truth of Scripture. They are a generation with a God-given destiny.
Elijah and Elisha traveled together for some time before Elijah was taken up to heaven in a chariot. Elijah passed the mantle to Elisha while they both went on to prophesy together. We here at the Catch are looking to walk in coalition with the Millennials; we are looking for Elisha.