Summary: What’s the big deal about missions? Why does it matter if people hear about Jesus? Aren’t all religions the same? This message takes a look at a historic mountain top experience and asks Does it really does matter what you believe?
Last Sunday we collected an Easter Offering for World Evangelism. The idea behind it was that thousands of churches around the world collect an offering, twice a year, and the money is used to support the hundreds of missionaries around the world.
• And two people from our own congregation are making plans to leave their family and their home and travel to Spain in order to support a mission organization that reaches out primarily to Muslims.
• All this effort and we’re just one tiny speck in the Christian world.
• Collectively I can’t imagine all the time, energy and money that is used in the efforts to bring the Good News of Jesus around the world.
• And then there are all the efforts of evangelism in local churches. Churches like our own have spent hundreds of dollars promoting various efforts; one example we did was the Alpha Course – trying to let people know about Jesus.
And the questions we need to ask ourselves, as individual Christians, as a local church, as a denomination, and as the Church globally, is “why bother”. Why do we bother with all this effort? Is it really necessary? Does it matter if they hear the name of Jesus?
• I mean, it’s one thing for church to be a place to meet friends and have some spiritual nourishment, but what’s the deal with “missions” and “evangelism” and that sort of thing?
• Why not “live and let live”? Why aren’t we content with “You do your thing, I’ll do my thing”?
• Isn’t it all the same in the end? I mean, what makes YOUR faith system better than anyone else’s?
• Does it really matter? Aren’t we all going up the same mountain, but on different paths, but we’ll all get to the top together and when we do we’ll find people of all religions celebrating together?
I want to tell you about a mountain top experience this morning. I think it’s a real eye opener and it explains why we spend so much time and energy in missions, whether it’s world missions, or ministry in our own neighbourhood.
It all started with a drought. Ahab was the King of Israel and according to 1 kings 16:30, “Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before Him.” Verse 32 says Ahab “did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than did all the kings of Israel before him.”
That’s not exactly the reputation you want to have. It’s a far cry from “Good and faithful servant…”
• Nevertheless, God’s response was a drought, so He sent Agent Elijah to deliver the message.
• Elijah reported to Ahab that there would be no rain for three years, except at his command (1 Kings 17:1), and then he did what any sensible prophet would do, he ran off to hide from Ahab.
• I suppose it’s only fair. If the feet of him who brings good news is lovely, then the head of him who brings bad news could very well be in danger. So after delivering the message, Elijah skips town.
• Sometime during the third year the Lord told Elijah to go back to Ahab and tell him that the rain would be coming. So off went Agent Elijah, to Ahab, this despite the fact that Ahab’s less-than-lovely wife was busy killing every prophet of the Lord she could find.
• Elijah meets Ahab and after a few formalities they agree to a rendezvous atop Mount Carmel.
• It must have been quite a gathering because not only were Ahab and Elijah there, there were 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah; and all the curious people who were interested in seeing what was going on.
Poor Elijah seemed greatly outnumbered. 850 to 1. That’s quite the odds, especially when they’re against you!
They were going to have a contest. It was kind of like a grown up version of “my dad’s bigger than your dad”. There would be two sacrifices and the God who answered would be proven to be the true God.
• This is where the story gets really exciting. Let’s pick up the story in 1 Kings 18:21-40 [READ]
Wow. What a story. What a powerful lesson for us today; in an age when so much is relative, in an age when we tend to think we can make up our own reality; this lesson from history clearly shows us, that when you get to the top of the mountain, the path you took makes all the difference in the world.
Think about it. If the Lord God, the God of Israel, was in fact the same god that the prophets of Baal worshipped – just with a different name, then there wouldn’t have been a problem on mount Carmel.