17 When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” 18 And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the Lord and followed the Baals. 1 Kings 18:17-18
The prayers of Elijah had ushered in three years of devastating drought upon the northern state of Israel. To Ahab therefore Elijah was the quintessential trouble maker and nuisance. What he conveniently forgot it was his own marriage to a Baal worshiping princess and the wholesale introduction of the worship of this vile deity that prompted Elijah’s mission and God’s judgment in the first place.
So in today’s church those who criticize its departure from scriptural Christianity and compromising God’s truth and holy laws are labeled as unloving and judgmental. They are forever pointing to the fact that God is love and forgetting that the greater part of that love is love of the truth.
To those who are ignorant or dismissive of the inspiration of the Bible regard most of the innovations and deletions in preaching and worship as being trivial and inconsequential. They consign anyone who differs from them as being nothing more than old fashioned and obstructions in the path of God’s New Work in the Church.
For many it seems that the order of the day is expediency in order to attain the goal of numerical growth and revival in the church. The old fashioned idea of proclaiming the gospel of Christ’s saving work and the desire to equip God’s people for His service and witness has been replaced by the attempt of packaging Christianity in ways acceptable to unregenerate people and promising them the answer and meeting of all their needs.
The only answer to the critiques these people give is that the ends justify the means and if nothing had changed the church would have died out completely; it seems these people know better than God.
The prophet Elijah stood almost alone against a king and nation turning their backs on the true God and His Word. Despite almost buckling under the strain he yet continued to uphold God’s truth and others continue to do so even now.
The question is whether we are indeed on the side of God’s truth and following in their train or are we instead caving in to the prevalent torrent of error in the church for the sake of a quiet life.
Living the high life!
Were we to judge by outward appearances of the public face of Christianity and Christian leaders we would draw the conclusion that many of our leaders and prominent preachers and teachers are indeed living the high life.
In our larger churches and religious groups the toothy smiles, hand waving and ecstatic utterances prompt us to think that if anyone is living the epitome of a good life they are. If anyone is enjoying the fullest of God’s temporal and spiritual blessings they are.
Better still they promise us that if we continue to support them they will share the secret with us and we to can enter into this glorious life.
If we do not it is only due to our lack of faith and generosity in supporting their work of spreading the message.
“Our best life now “is a phrase that will no doubt come back and bite he who uttered it. Yet we who still have one foot in the world naturally seek the easiest and if possible most pleasurable way through it on our way to glory.
It is only human to seek to keep suffering to a minimum and pleasure to the full. The danger lies, as Jesus tell us, in setting our heart on these things and forgetting that the path He trod, which we must tread also, seldom leads to peace and prosperity.
Rather this path, by its very nature sets us at odds with the people and things of this world.
The Christian who is faithful to his Christ exemplified calling inevitably turns away from many of the cloying and stupefying pleasures this world has to offer.
Also our deceitful hearts and the deceitfulness of worldly things snare our hearts and insensibly replace God in our affections.
I notice here also that in the presentation of the gospel nowadays very little that is in anyway unpleasant or sobering about the Christian life is mention much today. As I mention here often, the offense of the gospel and the persecution and cost of following Christ is conspicuous by its absence.
In the seeking of joy and comfort for ourselves the Puritan Richard Sibbes says “Grace and nature have the same general objects of comfort, only sinful nature seeks it in broken cisterns and grace in the fountain. Jer.3:8 The beginning of true happiness is the discovery of true and false objects, so as the soul may clearly see what is the best and safest and then steadfastly rely upon it_, God cannot come to take His place in the heart by trust, but where the powers of the soul are brought under, to regard Him and those great things He brings with Him above all things else in the world beside.”
We must first of all determine what the best things to seek are. The things of this world even at their best are fleeting and satiating without being satisfying. To seek them as the be all and end all leaves us at last empty and our taste for the good things of God forever spoiled. They prove in the final analysis to have been snares and weights which kept us from the spiritual pleasures and from God himself, the giver of all good things.
For the Christian the added peril is they may seek the gifts of God and forget the giver. Also they may seek them in such a way as to make them their due and just dessert and forget that all gifts come from the sovereign good pleasure of God. Therefore we are called to trust His perfect both in what He does give and what He does not. Also we must discipline ourselves not to be covetous of the gifts given to others even when seemingly greater and more prominent than ours.
The sum of the matter is that we must “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17
Children at play!
…4″Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Old men and old women will again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each man with his staff in his hand because of age. 5And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets.’ 6″Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘If it is too difficult in the sight of the remnant of this people in those days, will it also be too difficult in My sight?’ declares the LORD of hosts.…Zechariah 8: 4-6
Our conception of God if scriptural, highly exalts Him and makes Him infinitely above us both in wisdom and the freedom and sovereignty of his works.
Yet in these verses we have the other side of the picture. We have the Mighty God condescending to watch the children of the city playing in its streets.
He is not so remote as to let even these sorts of things escape His notice, indeed the innocent joys and pleasure of children fall under His care and pleasure.
The tenderness of God does not lessen His holiness and purity but to the anointed eye it serves to increase our awe and love for our God and Saviour.
If you preach a watered down gospel , you get soggy “christians”.