Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not 'kissed him'. - 1 Kings 19:18
The above was God's response to Elijah when we felt as though he was all alone – God's sole man in the entire nation of Israel. Without question, times were tough in those days for any who were willing to take a stand for God. One might have expected to feel as Elijah did if they had been in Assyria, Babylon or Egypt. But this was Israel: that nation that God had called out from all the other nations. This was the land of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – the land where the people's ancestors had walked with and talked with God. How could things have devolved so quickly into such paganism and idolatry? And so we read of Elijah's depression.
In much the same way there is plenty of reason to feel discouraged about the current spiritual state of America.
- Church attendance has been steadily decreasing from its 1957 high.
- The church remains almost as racially segregated today as it was at the time of American Civil War.
- Cults (like the Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons) have steadily grown from the time of their mid-19th century beginnings.
- A record number of people now claim no religious affiliation while atheism has grown – particularly among millennials.
- And maybe worst of all, among those who do regularly attend church, there is an incredible ignorance of the scriptures and basic church doctrine.
Elijah, it seems, given the same scenario might have been totally discouraged about our nation. Yet, in spite of all of this, I, Pastor Doug, remain hopeful. So what gives?
- My understanding of God's purposes and plans gives me great HOPE for the future. We tend to see things from a very myopic view. We fail to see the BIG PICTURE. Yes, right now things seem like they are going the wrong way. But what has God promised? Here is what He has promised us regarding Jesus:
And of the INCREASE of his government and peace there will be no end - Isaiah 9:7
We're on the winning side, even if right now it feels like we are losing. We know how this all ends. So we don't give up or lose heart.
- The chaos that we currently see in the greater church (with many seemingly much more interested in being entertained than in being discipled in the ways of Christ) will play itself out. Churches that fail to adhere to the scriptures will eventually fold. The true body of Christ will become increasingly evident – even to an unbelieving world. So hang on. The road may seem bumpy, but hold fast (Revelation 2:25 and 3:11) and in the end we will be blessed for it.