Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” So all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord which had been torn down (I Kings18:30).
Biblical prophets were straight talking men, but they were pastors who loved God’s people, and wanted to see godly reformation. This always begins with the reformation of the church and its worship of God, for as the Bible says, “it is time for judgement to begin with the household of God…” (I Pet.4:17). And it’s a never ending process.
The restructuring, health and growth of the church should be a concern to every Christian person. Why? Because the future and welfare of every community of the world, is closely related to the future and welfare of the church. Wherever there are sick nations around the world, this is preceded by sick and deficient churches, in them. But when there is a healthy, growing and influential church, the society and nation benefits.
This is why there are no political silver bullets when nations are in decline. This has been the error of the Messianic State, as though social health can be somehow superimposed from above. It cannot. It has to spring up from the grass-roots of the community, beginning in and with the health of families, within the life of the church.
Why is this? Because a nation is only as good as its grass roots. If families are struggling and dysfunctional (and they commonly are in the modern era), they bring their problems to church. There is nothing new about that. But when churches are swamped with people with lots of personal problems, these problems inevitably affect the health of the nation. (At least they came to the right place.) So, Christians should always be concerned for social foundations: individuals, families, churches, for these are what makes up a nation.
So, the principle remains the same: internal integrity leads to external integration.
Elijah wanted to repair the altar of the Lord, and so should we. The altar of the Lord is the Church.
Churches need pastors, to be sure. They also need elders and deacons, who will also carry the load of the care of the church. These can and should be powerful, influential people who are concerned for the individuals and families of their church, but also their community.
Stephen made his mark as a deacon (see Acts 6). Out of their ministry to widows, he “…was performing great signs and wonders among the people” (Acts 6:8). This deacon became well-known and influential. Then he attracted a lot of opposition. Funny, that.
Churches need to be composed largely of problem solvers, those who are dealing with their own issues, and ready to assist others. We’re not talking here about perfectionism, but we are talking about outward focussed people. Paul encouraged us, “do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil.2:4).
In this way, Christians become powerful, needed people, and churches become powerful, needed social institutions. This was always God’s plan, that the church becomes “…the joy of the whole earth…” (Ps.48:2).
We are willing to help others… we do so, we start grappling with community issues, this leads to some Biblical answers; we keep working on this. We figure out that God wanted the Church to be the premier social institution, right alongside the family, and giving it its direction.
And in the long-term, there comes about a whole new alignment. The Messianic State is seen for what it always was: a total pretence, a supplanter of the family and the church. And the church begins to stand forth in confidence throughout the community, “…the pillar and support of the truth” (I Tim.3:14). And then, we see a massive change happening.
How does this come about? Because the church begins to supply answers to people’s problems. It delves into scripture and says, “This is how you do it.”
And we begin to see the church doing what God said it would do:
Now it will come about that in the last days, the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, “Come, and let us go to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us concerning his ways and they we may walk in his paths.” For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (Isa.2:2-3).
Unbelief says, “This will never happen.” But unbelief has to give ground to what Jesus said:
I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it (Mat.16:18).
But none of this can ever eventuate without a ton of faithful work by Christians, and the church. We have a task to accomplish: to actually establish our credibility, and that we really do know what we are talking about, and will steadily go about the task of seeing it through.
Overnight? No. Over decades and generations? If God permits us, yes. And Jesus explained just how:
…First the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head (Mk.4:28).