What does it mean to be a committed Christian man in a post-Christian world?  Are there times when you have felt all alone?  Are you worried about the coming days?  Do you sometimes want to hide your light under a bushel basket, consciously “slacking off” in a hostile environment where the name of Jesus is offensive?  Does it sometimes tempt you to give up living for the Lord?    

Remember the story of the prophet Elijah in I Kings 18-20.  He challenged 450 prophets of Baal to ask their god to bring down fire on their altar sacrifice.  Elijah did similarly.  But he believed that “the God who answers by fire – he is God”(I Kings 18:24).  He prayed,   “Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again” (I Kings 18:37).  God sent fire upon Elijah’s sacrifice, but not on that of the 450 prophets.  The people fell prostate and cried, “The Lord – he is God” (I Kings 18:39).  

After this victory, however, Elijah was condemned by Queen Jezebel and ran for his life. “He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord. Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors'” (I Kings 19:4). “And the word of the Lord came 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; now they are trying to kill me, too'” (I Kings 19:10).

Later, God declared to him in an gentle whisper, “I reserve seven thousand in Israel – all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him” (I Kings 19:18).  Much later, the apostle Paul used this incident to show that God had not rejected the Israelites from the New Covenant.  He used the word “remnant.”  “So too, there is a remnant at the present time chosen by grace.  And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace” (Romans 11:5-6).  

The Message puts it this way: “It’s the same today. There’s a fiercely loyal minority still – not many, perhaps, but probably more than you think. They’re holding on, not because of what they think they’re going to get out of it, but because they’re convinced of God’s grace and purpose in choosing them.  If they were only thinking of their own immediate self-interest, they would have left long ago” (Romans 11:5-6 – MSG). 

What can we learn from this incident in the prophet Elijah’s life?

First, God can still bring the fire and turn hearts back to the Lord. Pray, believing as Elijah did, “Let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command” (I Kings 18:36).   

Second, don’t let the strong cultural narrative regarding toxic masculinity or following Jesus intimate you.  Don’t go and brood under a broom tree.

Third, admit your discouragement, but don’t say like Elijah, “”I have had enough, Lord” ( I Kings 19:4).  Admit you are not a “super” hero; you desperately need God’s grace. 

Fourth, be open to the “gentle whisper” of the Lord.  God was not in the wind, nor the earthquake, nor the fire. 

Fifthly, praise God for being part of his remnant.  It’s all of God’s work (grace) in your life.  There are others.  You are not alone.