current sermon series
Representing God In a Pluralistic Age
How should Christians engage a semi-Christian environment? That would be a culture that knows a lot about the Bible and Christian beliefs, shares some of them, but is only marginally(if at all) faithful and generally open to modifications, distortions, and the like. That would be the people we are called to serve and called to reach with the story of salvation in Christ. How do we best strategize for this mission? While the ministries of Elijah and Elisha took place prior to Jesus’s coming, their circumstances were strangely similar. They were called to reach a people marginally faithful to the Lord and more than willing to add new and sundry gods with their forms of worship to the mix. From their examples we can learn a lot about being God’s agents in a world of hostility; agents not just of condemnation, but also of hope, of peace, and of salvation.
May 26 — Sleeper [An agent living as an ordinary citizen in a foreign country; acts only when a hostile situation develops.] With the dawning of the reign of Ahab, Israel entered its most idolatrous and wicked period to date. The narrator sets the stage for a new series of narratives by introducing Ahab, his wife Jezebel, and the mysterious prophet Elijah. The prophet serves to remind the reader that even in the most evil of days, God is at work to bring about justice and to raise up and provide for his representatives serving amid hostility. (1 Kings 16:29-17:7)
June 2 — Infiltration [The secret movement of an operative into a target area.] The three narratives of 1 Kings 17 portray God ruling over three areas chiefly connected to the pagan god Baal: rain and harvest, the nation of Phoenicia, and life itself. As Elijah moves into Zarephath, located between the key Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon, God’s agent reveals that His control extends into enemy territory. While there, Elijah further illustrates that all life and death lie not in the power of the world, but in the hands of the Lord. (1 Kings 17:8-24)
June 9 — Provocateur [An operative sent to incite a target group to action for purposes of entrapping or embarrassing them.] How glamorous and exciting the gods of the world often look! At the influence of one woman a large number of Israelites had been seduced into compromising their faith in the Lord and mixing their worship with that of other gods. Enter the lowly prophet, who stands alone in contest with over 800 priests and priestesses of Baal, the sole representative of the true God. And though he was vastly outnumbered, his experiment verified to the audience then and now that true power lies only in God, and only He is deserving of our trust and loyalty. All others look ridiculous by comparison. (1 Kings 18)
June 16 — Brush Pass [A brief encounter where something is passed between case officer and agent.] If you stay in the game long enough, you’re going to have those moments where you feel alone. Where you feel like God has let you down, or where the commitment is just not worth it. You’re going to feel like you’re the only one going through that thing that you’re going through. After all, if someone as capable as Elijah felt that way, what chance do we have, right? But God is omnipresent, and his agents are everywhere. You are never alone. And part of our job as agents is to make sure we provide support for one another, so as soon as another agent feels alone, one of us is there to remind them that they’re not. (1 Kings 19)
June 23 — Escort [The operations officer assigned to lead a defector along an escape route.] In this world the notion of complete control is an illusion. Governments are deceived by it. Businesses are also. Churches are deceived by it, as well as individuals from every walk of life. The one thing we can, and should, trust is that God is in control; and He is working to move his plan for humanity to its completion. Sometimes that means protecting and/or rescuing His people from harm, as He did for Israel in this text. Other times it means difficulties that come in the form of trials, or as here with Ahab, discipline for those who have ignored God’s commands and tried to live according to their own plans. Either way, full control rests only with the Lord. (1 Kings 20)