We are living in difficult times and by difficult I do not mean war, famine and great physical suffering, although in other parts of the world these circumstances are most certainly a reality. In our post- modern North American world, we are faced with a complex and sophisticated bombardment of issues and obstacles that have become extremely difficult to judge and even spiritually discern. This dilemma has clouded our sense of value and moral clarity. As Christians we have become intrigued and captivated by the “magic” of this age.
The answer to this problem is not a political, social economic or even a cultural one. The answer is simply a personal spiritual one. The church and more specifically, us as individual Christians, have drifted away from our spiritual roots. We have become more attached to the lure of modern culture than to the stability and power of the Word of God, the person of the Holy Spirit and the relationship with our Lord Jesus. The time has come for us to move back to where we belong back to a true place of relevance. A place where we can not only relate to this complex world, but relate with true authenticity. For some reason we have believed that prevailing cultural norms, behavior and trends help authenticate our message when in fact it’s our spiritual roots.
Let me try to focus this a little more personally. We have become too overwhelmed by the craziness of this world. A good example of what’s happening can be found in 1 Kings 19:3-5
"Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day's journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. "I have had enough, Lord," he said. "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors." Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep".
Elijah was overwhelmed by life, by the prevailing culture and personal obstacles and problems. Remember he was the same prophet who challenged the prophets of Baal on Mt Carmel. Now he finds himself fearful, confused and questioning his value and relevance. He says “I have had enough.” Who has not felt like this? As a pastor I have encountered so many people who feel they have got to the end of their tether. I too at times have felt like this. James tells us in James 5:17-19 that “Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain…” An ordinary man doing extraordinary things but one who also experiences the fears and disappointments of life.
Disappointment and discouragement are the first signals that we not coping. “All the hard work and for what?” Many people have lost so much in this economic environment which they had worked so hard for. Disappointment can spurn anger. Elijah was not only disappointed with what was happening but extremely angry. Angry at the world, angry with people and angry with God. Elijah displayed pride in the form of self-pity. These were further signals that he was coming undone.
Something amazing happened to Elijah under the broom tree. Even though he gave up, God was there. The Lord allowed him to sleep but he woke up with a loaf of bread baking and a jug of water waiting. We have to find our roots again. We have to find the things that feed us and refresh us again. It’s the Word of God and the Power of the Holy Spirit that will keep us consistent, refreshed and relevant.
God allowed Elijah to sleep a second time. He needed rest, he was physically tired. This is yet another sign that we are taking stress from our circumstances.
"But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you".
There is physical revitalization and healing by the Holy Spirit. It’s amazing that God has provided everything we need to relate, cope with and be relevant in this crazy overwhelming world we live in.
Another important lesson we learn from Elijah is that he had a touch from an angel. We need a touch from heaven. We need to personally experience the presence and power of God again. Hunger and thirst after Him. Elijah was healed, refreshed, empowered, fed and commissioned. He was equipped, instructed and directed with purpose, identity and clarity. He was sent back into the world he fled from to fulfill Gods will. God said to him “Go back the way you came.” He went back with a totally different view on his circumstances. He was not going to allow everything to overwhelm and influence him but he was going to influence everything around him.
So it’s time for us to come back to our spiritual roots.