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Summary: The message explores how Christians can avoid becoming casualties of divine service. There is a high cost demanded of those who will serve Christ, and we must not imagine that we will be spared paying that cost. However, in standing firm with Christ, we will stand victorious.

“Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, ‘So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.’ Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.

“But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, ‘It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.’ And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, ‘Arise and eat.’ And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. And the angel of the LORD came again a second time and touched him and said, ‘Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.’ And he arose and ate and drank and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.

“There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ He said, ‘I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.’ And he said, ‘Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.’ And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ He said, ‘I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.’ And the LORD said to him, ‘Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.’” [1]

Becoming another casualty in the worship wars or a wounded healer who suffers the wrath of some unthinking church member may send you on a journey that God never ordained. Such a journey could happen to you; it happened to Elijah. It has happened to many who have gone before you; unfortunately, it will happen again. Church goers can be cruel, horrendous in destroying those with whom they disagree. Professing Christians can perpetuate some of the most jaw-dropping abuse and not even be aware that they are being abusive.

Those engaged in full-time ministry are especially susceptible to such assaults from fellow Christians. Don Whitney, speaking to an assembly in a major US seminary, once cited a statistic indicating that only one of every twenty ministers remains in ministry until retirement. “Despite all the commitment with which they begin the race,” he said, “despite all the investment of time and money to prepare, despite the years spent in service, despite the cost of retooling and redirecting their lives, nearly all will leave the ministry.”

If that particular information doesn’t shock you, it should! The thing is, while that statement was made concerning people engaged in or preparing to be engaged in full-time, professional ministry, it generally holds true across the spectrum of church life. Each Christian is appointed to service within the Body of Christ. Likewise, each follower of the Risen Saviour is expected to stay at the task which Christ has assigned. The church is not a venue for observing a performance; the church is a living entity composed of men and women who have been redeemed and equipped to serve one another in the midst of a broken world.

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