It is hard to overstate just how important it is to believe and embrace the old adage that the Church is not the building but the people. Organized religion seems to be anything but organized today. Pluralism and narcissism have flooded into almost every neighborhood church. Religious leaders and academicians assure good Christian folks that they need not worry about the cataclysmic cultural shifts taking place today. “God is driving the change,” they say. “We know the Bible seems to provide clarity about today’s social issues but it really doesn’t. There’s an awful lot of gray area around abortion, and sexual immorality, and marriage. The Spirit is blowing the winds of change and God’s Church must get on board!”
Consequently, battles are raging in almost all Christian denominations as the bourgeoisie try to bring the proletariat into conformity. Confidence that Christian denominations are leading their flocks in the right direction has been seriously eroded. And the enemies of the Cross are simply delighted. When Christians squabble over whether homosexuality is a sin or a virtue despite the crystal clear language of the Bible then there is no clear prophetic voice speaking to the world, “thus saith the Lord.” Without that voice it almost feels like “it’s everyone for himself.”
It reminds me of Elijah fleeing the wrath of Jezebel in 1 Kings 19. He had just experienced complete victory over the false prophets of Baal. Yet Jezebel’s threats and influence so intimidated him he wanted to throw in the towel (actually asked God to kill him). It feels so lonesome when you think you are by yourself in holding up righteousness. And that is just how so many faithful followers of God feel as they try to stand against the growing tide of evil in the world. Our Church leaders have capitulated to the desire to be admired by culture and have convinced a lot of the flock they are being used of God to bring about change (as opposed to the true agent of change: the Holy Spirit). The faithful are dwindling in both number and influence. Many of us are longing for the return of Christ but for the wrong reason. Not so much so we can sit at His feet but so we can be delivered from Jezebel.
The good news is God’s word to Elijah that must still hold true to His faithful today. “I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal…” (1 Kings 19:18). God was in effect saying to Elijah, “Child, you are not alone and those who are faithful to Me will not fade into obsolescence.” Ultimately, Elijah rode off into heaven in a fiery chariot (2 Kings 2:11). Jezebel, on the other hand, was tossed out a window, stomped on by horses, and eaten by dogs (2 Kings 9:30-37).
The faithful followers of God have always had (and always will) the very thing their detractors promise they won’t: staying power. When will the enemies of truth and righteousness ever get it through their heads that no matter how hard they try and no matter how stacked in their favor both the odds and the numbers are in gaining ultimate victory over the Church…they are doomed to failure. The Church. Not the buildings. Not the denominations with their hierarchies and headquarters. The people of God who refuse to bow their knees to whatever Baal is calling himself today (Tolerance, Diversity, Acceptance, et.al). The people who are not compromising or capitulating but are “contend[ing] for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
To those who think they are winning the culture war because more and more politicians, judges, and religious leaders are coming over to their side and making life increasingly difficult for those narrow-minded fundamentalist religious types who actually think the Bible is to be read and believed, I have some bad news…We aren’t going away and we will not disappear. You have been saying for literally centuries that Christianity will fade into obscurity. You have done everything from kill us to legislating our faith practices out of existence. Yet here we still are. When are you going to learn that the words of Jesus Christ cannot be undone: “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
To the thousands who have not the name of Elijah but share his zeal for righteousness I say “You don’t need a building or an institutional religious structure in order to succeed for God. Stay the course. Fight the good fight of faith. Don’t worry about the odds or the superior numbers stacked against you. They never have mattered to God. Only one thing matters to God: faithfulness.