Sunday, March 8, 2009

"300" was OK, but here's a good review of "7,000"

Many faithful Christians are out from under the unfruitful and unfaithful national leadership of The Episcopal Church (TEC). A good number of these Christians are forming up as The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). In fact, the Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) of this new coalition is over 10% of TEC's total ASA.

Meanwhile, there are many faithful Christian who remain in TEC for a variety of reasons.

The ACNA members and those within TEC have some points of cooperation, but also their share of sniping and griping at one another. There are disagreements about how best to respond to apostate leaders.

The New Bible Commentary has a sobering insight into I Kings 19:18, which is about a prophet dealing with apostate leaders. On the run from Baal- worshipping King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, the Prophet Elijah receives messages from God, including,

Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.

The New Bible Commentary views this word, in part, as a correction:

Elijah had dismissed everyone's faith but his own and had failed to appreciate ways in which God was at work. This is an attitude which often leads to a divisive arrogance and even fanaticism among God's people today.

The Prophet was looking for a decisive divine knockout blow to the apostates. Elijah might well have styled himself as the divine fist, based on previous events. But God "speaks" instead through subtlety, unfolding events in other places, and a reminder that there are, after all, faithful folks still sprinkled all through the mess.

Elijah is given his part in the reform, but also the clear vision that it is not his to complete. Part of his work is to anoint his own successor to carry on the divine plan over time.

This is a take on Elijah that I'd missed over the years. It is worth considering by faithful Christians in ACNA and still in TEC. We have our parts in an unfolding plan, which belongs to our faithful God. Let's remember that none of us are the only agent of righteous change - there are "7,000." In Biblical symbolism, "7" is a number of completeness (as in "seven days of creation") and adding zeros means great abundance.