Don't you just love Elijah? In my sermon last week, I described him as "the Dirty Harry of the Old Testament." Most of you, I'm sure, remember those Clint Eastwood movies of the 70s and 80s. In real life, Dirty Harry Calahan would be a menace to society. But in fictional terms, a lot of people resonated with a guy who would break the rules in order to get the bad guy.
Elijah was like that. He didn't care whose feelings he hurt...even King Ahab's. He was going to tell the truth. If he had to call down a little fire from heaven, so be it.
I enjoy reading the life of Elijah because I like his courage. I find it inspiring. I watch him do battle with Jezebel and her prophets, and I live vicariously through his daring moves, like a kid watching a superhero movie.
All that said, I imagine Elijah is the biblical hero I would LEAST like to meet. Why? Because he'd surely have some harsh words for me. One thing he might ask me is the title of our message this week: How big is your God? Do you really believe in the God of Israel, the God of Jesus? Do you believe in a God who is concerned about the state of the world and has the power to do something about it? Or is your divine image that of a distant old man who gives us some nice commandments to ponder, and some nice rituals to perform?
The reason he might ask me such a question is that he would find precious little evidence of the power of God in my own personal life and ministry. He would kick me in the tuchus, spiritually speaking (well, knowing Elijah, he'd probably kick me literally) and say, "If your God is Yahweh, then get out there and act like it!"
I promise there'll be no literal tuchus-kickings at Westbury this Sunday. But I hope that you'll be as inspired by Elijah's actions in 1 Kings 18 as I am.