Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” The Lord said to him, “… Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19:13b-15a, 18)
A support and fund-raising video made its way to the church’s mailbox recently. Curiosity led me to watch some of the video. One point especially caught my attention. “There are 1,500,000 Christians in the world,” the speaker said. “Imagine what we can do together to spread the gospel message.” To be honest I do not remember the exact number, but it was somewhere between 1,500,000 and 1,600,000. I believe he said in the world, but he could have been speaking of the United States. Either way as I thought about his statement the other day I remembered the above conversation between God and Elijah.
The speaker on the dvd was not speaking of 1,500,000 Christians within a particular denomination. He understands this to be the total number of Christians! You see, he believes, of all the religious groups in the world claiming to be Christian, there is but one true body of Christians, one true church, the one true church of our Lord Jesus Christ. He believes the true church is the one to which he belongs–the churches of Christ. Now this happens to be the church to which I belong.
As I thought about what he said, yes, I thought about Elijah. Everyone who believes in Jesus Christ, who is a disciple of Christ, must live, practice, and teach what he understands God, Christ, and the Spirit, reveal in Scripture. For those of us in churches of Christ or any other body of believers who draw the circle of true believers around their own number, we need to see ourselves in Elijah.
“Lord, we are very zealous for the truth of your gospel. Everyone has rejected the pure truth of your new covenant in Christ. We are the only ones left. We want others to understand the truth. With zeal we teach and stand firm. But we are the only ones left.” The Lord responds, “The circle is larger than the one you have drawn. I have reserved many, many, more, who have not bowed to Baal. People, who like you, believe with humble and honest faith in my Son Jesus Christ. Believers whose lives are committed to Him. Their souls and hearts are in my hands.”
Just thinking out loud.