Line in the Sand
Originally delivered January 29
The book of James assures us that
Elijah was a man just like us. That seems a little dubious to us, for the
most memorable moment in his life came at Mt. Carmel. You remember the
scene: one prophet of the Lord vs. 850 for Baal. The prophets of
Baal dance themselves silly to call down his fire from heaven. When
Elijah and the crowd watching have had enough, Elijah gets his turn. You
will remember how the offering was drenched with water—and then God sent fire
How was this Elijah “a man like
us?” Certainly not in the sense of being able to call down fire from
heaven. He was like us in one respect, however: he knew where the
Great Divide lay. That division separates the church from the world.
He challenged the crowd with it: how long would they “halt between two
opinions?” Most of us don’t like that kind of challenge. We want to
go through life without great conflict, just getting by and leaving that
challenge to someone with a degree in theology. But the Lord presents
that Great Divide to us each time we take Communion.
You will recall, of course, that
after that little incident the queen, Jezebel, threatened to have his head
removed. He did what most of us would do: he ran. What he did
NOT do was to reach a reasonable compromise with the other side. So it is
with us: righteousness can make no compromise with evil.
Some of us try do to that.
We are proud of our “one of the boys” carousing on Saturday night, secure in
the knowledge that our bar buddies would never understand the spiritual side so
well displayed the next morning. Sunday morning, we pity those Christians
who just don’t know how to live with gusto. But the Scripture is
clear: no matter how you try, you cannot serve two masters. The
world is clear also: any attempt to do so is hypocrisy.
See, then, how the Lord’s Supper
divides us from the world. In drinking His blood and eating His body, you
invite His judgment upon you. It is most unwise to do this lightly; did
you think He would neither notice nor care? So it is that we are
encouraged to examine ourselves, confessing and repenting, so that when you
take the Lord’s Supper you do so as a repentant sinner—not a pious
You are in the world, but not of
the world. Taking Communion proclaims the Lord’s death until He comes
again. By taking it, you pronounce yourself a sinner who believes that
His Atonement is your salvation. Let your words suit your action;
meditate on your sinful state, ask forgiveness and proclaim to the world and to
the church just which side you are on.