Lectionary: Proper 4C / Ordinary 9C / Pentecost +2

“Speak Truth with Power”

by CM

1 Kings 18:20-21 [22-29] 30-39

How difficult it can be to go against the grain, to stand when the currents are moving, and to resist when the crowd demands that one conform. And yet, how easy it is to let yourself think that you’re alone at such times.

This isolated feeling prompted the prophet Elijah to say, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men.” (I Kings 18:22)

However, Elijah had the benefit of the inside track. His relationship with God was of the sort that shifted the actual numbers along with the odds: Elijah + God = the majority. But it takes a kind of faith given confidence to move in the power of this majority.

It’s a confidence that comes from first-hand experience, and direct contact with the source. Why did the vast amount of people fall silent when Elijah laid down the challenge between the LORD and Baal? Because they had no means to develop the confidence required to meet such a challenge. What they knew of the gods they worshiped was given to them, by the many, not from the One. So we see the difference between what is produced in the conflict. More than the climactic demonstration of the LORD’s power and Baal’s impotence, but in the subtle dynamics of the speaker and the silent ones. Notice, of the 450 prophets of Baal, not a single one had a thing to say.

Among the 450, you’d think at least one of them would have said, “Oh no! I reject your terms, Elijah. Lord Baal says it won’t be an altar and a sacrifice. Instead, we’re going to command trees to shoot up, fully grown and heavy with figs, from barren ground. How about that?!” After all, there were 450 of them. But no, just like the gods they served, so did their prophets stand impotent. That crowd hadn’t heard from God, only each other.

So, consider your faith, and more importantly, your confidence in it. When you speak in faith, is it first hand faith or second hand faith? Is it rooted in your personal relationship or a good word you’ve been told about God? The difference is in the power. Do you have the power to speak to the crowd or does the crowd speak to you? Judge your power by your results.

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