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Elijah and being a Small Group Leader

You could almost hear the intro of “Eye of the Tiger” begin to play as God’s prophet, Elijah, lined up against Baal’s prophets (all 450 of them). And though it would be a battle for the ages, and though Elijah seems to sarcastically taunt Baal’s prophets, his heart ultimately focused on the glory of God and the hearts of God’s people. As I read 1 Kings 18, I can not help but think about my role as a small group leader. I want to quickly highlight three things that Elijah does, on which we should all maintain our focus. Elijah was clear about the choice - “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If Yahweh is God, follow Him. But if Baal, follow him.” vs. 21 Many times throughout small group meetings we will have opportunities to lovingly speak the truth into the lives of our members. Some will be struggling with marital strife, some with parenting obstacles, and others with life dominating temptations. We must be great at drawing a clear line of delineation on how to turn away from false idols, and how to follow after the one true God. In addition, it is important that we call our small group members to stop “hesitating” on this decision. If they truly believe that God is who He says He is, then what is stopping them from serving Him right now? The answer to this question will reveal the idol that will need to be torn down. For some it will be pride and for others it might be selfishness. Whatever it is, we are called to help them tear down these idols immediately. Elijah invited the people to come close to him - Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near me.” vs. 30 This is the part of the story that caught my attention the most. You see, before, I thought that Elijah was barking out these commands because he didn’t want to be accused of cheating. So just like a magician might use a “random person” from the audience to distance himself from the trick, I assumed Elijah was protecting the integrity of the miracle. However, as you read it, what you begin to realize is that Elijah was using this opportunity to woo the hearts of the people back to God. As they drew near him, he begins to rebuild the altar of God in front of them, stone by stone. This altar, in particular, was originally built with 12 stones representing the 12 tribes of Israel. What Elijah was doing was forcing the people to remember God’s character, specifically God’s faithfulness to His people. As they brought pitcher after pitcher of water to pour on the reconstructed altar, not only was Elijah “upping the ante” by dowsing the altar, he was pushing the people to recognize how far their hearts had strayed from the God they were called to love and serve. They would be a part of the process in preparing for the miracle that was about to take place, not only in the fire that would fall, but in the heart change that would occur within them. As small group leaders, we will be weekly saying to our group, “Come near me.” What we hope to do is help struggling, broken people rebuild their hearts through our study of God’s Word and our “one anothering” as God’s people. Each time they attend, we want them to remember and return to our faithful God. Elijah prayed that God would be made known and He would be credited for the people’s heart change - Answer me, Lord! Answer me so that this people will know that You, Yahweh, are God and that You have turned their hearts back.” vs 37 Elijah’s prayer to Yahweh God for the people is fascinating! He begs God to put His full power and glory on display so that the people would be woken out of their spiritual stupor. He wanted there to be no doubt, no question, that Yahweh is the only God, and that He alone is worthy of possessing the hearts of the people of Israel. The second part of Elijah’s prayer is that he desired for the people to know that it was God Himself that “turned their (the peoples) hearts back.” You might feel inadequate sometimes to provide an answer to your small group. You might leave disappointed in how a meeting went. But just remember this, it is God and only God that can turn people’s hearts back to Him. Trust Him to do what only He can do. No one is expecting you to call fire from heaven (please warn all of us if you plan to do so)! What we can do, however, is echo Elijah’s hope filled prayer as we seek to point the people God has entrusted to us, back to Him!

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