Today’s Bible Reading: 1 Kings 18:16–39
Exodus 20:3–4; Numbers 23:19; Deuteronomy 5:7–8
No matter how you would have looked at the odds, they didn’t stack up in Elijah’s favor.
Elijah was just one person standing up for God against not only the 450 prophets of Baal but also a teeming mass of godlessness consuming his own people, the chosen children of Israel. The people, seduced by the idolatry of the culture around them, knew better. Yet even when Elijah confronted them about their disobedience, they remained silent.
How could this have happened? The same way it happens to us. Whether we call it groupthink, conformity, peer pressure, compliance, inclusiveness, tolerance, mob mentality or whatever, if a group doesn’t temper its course with godly wisdom, the results can be dangerous. An issue can become culturally mainstream, but that doesn’t necessarily make it good or right. It’s just common. Prevalent. Yet for many people, when an issue becomes common it becomes normal and acceptable.
This occurs not only in the greater culture but also in businesses, churches, organizations, government and almost every other area of life. Managers overuse the perennially popular buzzword “teamwork.” And don’t forget, there’s no “I” in team. Individual voices melt into the tolerant, inclusive group. This thinking stands as a cultural virtue—practically a mandate.
To the people around him, Elijah’s beliefs and actions seemed culturally out of step and devoid of common sense. Like an Old Testament John Wayne, he took a stand as an individual, representing God instead of giving in to the team or the culture.
Throughout Scripture the strength and value of well-tempered individuals shine through. Instead of seeking serenity, maybe our prayer should be, “God grant me the determination to know your Word, the courage to confront those who distort it and the wisdom to know the difference.”
To Take Away
- Who do you know that consistently stands for God and against the tide of culture?
- What opportunities do you have to take a public stand for God?
- What made Elijah confident that he would succeed? How can you experience that kind of confidence?
In Other Words
“Individual commitment to a group effort—that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” —Vince Lombardi