What are you seeking? (1 Kings 19:9-18) • Pastor Tim Tseng • September 4, 2016
“What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah was in a cave, depressed, and ready to give up (v. 4) In 1 Kings 18, when tasked to confront Ahab (the king of Israel) and his wife Jezebel (the chief promotor Baal worship), Elijah found himself alone. Though he successfully defeated the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel, Ahab and Jezebel were even more determined to kill him. So Elijah fled, hid, and was distraught.
1. “I am the only one left” – Hitting the Elijah “Wall”
In his mind, there was no hope. The king and people of Israel had abandoned God. All Jesus-followers will hit this Elijah “wall” and feel alone because the truth is that most people – even church-going Christians – are not oriented to Jesus. Most small group leaders, for example, realize that few people make commitments to the small group. Most will show up whenever it is convenient. Other things in life always become a higher priority than fellowship, learning about God’s word, growing in Christ, and serving others in Jesus’ name. Rarely will anyone want to lead (or learn how to lead) a bible study or disciple another person in the small group. All disciples will hit the “Elijah” wall.
2. Looking for God in the wind, earthquake, and fire – Distorting narratives.
Discouraged, we are tempted to de-emphasize following Jesus in order to get more people to come to our small group (or church) consistently. We might try to make small group more fun and emphasize Jesus less. Church leaders may focus on trying to keep people in church by offering more entertaining or educational programs – which are not wrong. But when we look for “big” things to validate our efforts or maintain our numbers, the cost is often permitting our people to de-emphasize following Jesus. We distort our faith narratives and our understanding of God and give today’s Baal worshipers of convenience and self-centeredness the upper hand. This is a recipe for disaster.
3. What we need: to be transformed to love God
So how can we sustain ourselves when we feel alone? How can we encourage others to turn their lives towards Jesus? The key is falling in love with the God that Jesus knows, not the God that we make up in our minds or that our society imagines. Falling in love with God requires a turning of our will towards God. But that doesn’t happen by using will-power. Rather, we have to change our minds, bodies, and social contexts – and be led by the Holy Spirit – in order to turn our wills towards God.
1. Our minds: God changed Elijah’s narrative. “You are not alone, Elijah.” Our minds can change, too. But this requires adopting Jesus’ narrative and his knowledge of God.
2. Our bodies: When bodily activities that help us turn towards Jesus are practiced regularly, we gain the “muscle memory” to be able to love God. E.g., getting enough sleep gives our minds energy to learn and love and allows us to be accountable to each other.
3. Our social contexts (community): Whether it is a one-on-one soul mentor, a small group, or Sunday worship, regular dialogue and interaction with other Jesus-followers around what we learn (mind) and what we do (body) will help us to love God more.
4. The Holy Spirit: Ultimately we need to trust in the Holy Spirit to guide and empower us.
What are we doing here? What are we seeking? Let’s seek & fall in love with God this fall!