1.In what ways does our culture waver between a multitude of opinions? How do we respond?
Pluralism and postmodernism reign supreme in certain Western democracies. Under these concepts, a multiplicity of contradictory view-points is celebrated. Normally, the concept of waver (or halt in the King lames Version) brings with it the idea of “Maybe idea A is right or maybe idea B is right—we’re not sure.” However, postmodernism says, “Idea A can be right for me while Idea B is right for you—to each his own.”Demonstrating and refuting such inconsistencies requires a great deal of alertness.
Other parts of the world have their problems too. Alternatives to worship of the living God abound. These include animistic faiths in tribal areas, the Hindu deities that dominate India, or “Allah” that Muslims worship. The task of con-fronting these can seem overwhelming at times. A good start for forming a response is to become more informed in the area of Christian apologetics. This field of study deals with defense of the faith (see, for example, www.rzim.org).
2.In what ways is Elijah’s confrontation with450 ungodly opponents an example for Christians today? In what ways is it not an example? We should be careful to get these two questions right! Elijah received specific, personal instructions to go to King Ahab (1 Kings 18:1). We, on the other hand, have general instructions to go into all the world (Matthew 28:19, 20). If a Christian were to go to Mount Carmel today and attempt to reproduce Elijah’s confrontation, the possibility is very real that God would not participate in such an endeavor!
Further, we have no approval from God to kill His enemies as Elijah apparently had (compare Luke 6:27-36; 9:54, 55). Our challenge is to realize that God is in control no matter how people react to our witness.
3. Elijah built an altar to God in the presence of all of the people, including the prophets of Baal. When is public expression of Christian faith especially appropriate today? When can such expressions be counterproductive?
Public expressions of the Christian faith take many forms on many occasions. Tying such expressions to familiar calendar events may have the most impact (Christmas, Easter, anniversary of Roe v. Wade, etc.).
Public expressions of faith that involve confrontation with those who advocate abortion, homosexuality, etc., should be handled with great care. Such expressions and confrontations maybe more productive if they are characterized by grief and sorrow than by anger.
4.What was a time in your life when you stood alone (or nearly alone) for something you believed was right? What was the result for the cause you supported? How did taking this stand affect you personally?
Taking a stand can be very difficult. Standing all alone is even more difficult—it’s emotionally exhausting and faith can waver. Yet history abounds with examples of people who honored God by acting alone in the face of established, entrenched opposition. No doubt there are examples in your class of those who have walked in the footsteps of Elijah in a figurative way. We gain strength when we remember that when we stand for God, He stands with us. We are not really standing alone. Elijah felt very alone at times, but God was with him all the way. Elijah’s protégé Elisha knew this as well(see 2 Kings 6:15-17). Whenever we stand together with God against opposition, we will find ourselves changed. One cannot stand that close to God without experiencing the effects!
5.When was a time that you stepped out so far on faith that you could have been successful only if God intervened?
Let’s face it: God’s intervention in the form of fire from Heaven is a rare thing! Much more likely for an is God’s intervention in the form of opened and closed doors of opportunity. Stories will be personal, of course, but try to steer the discussion along that line. As students share their stories, ask, “What opened or closed doors of opportunity led you to believe that God rather than humans or random chance was opening and closing those doors?”