We are not confronted with the problems Elijah faced in 1 Kings 18. With pressure from Jezebel and Ahab he had to flee to Mount Horeb, as fellow believers were persecuted to the point of death, Robin explained last Sunday.

Elijah had earlier challenged Baal’s followers to prove their “god” existed, by burning up a water-soaked sacrifice. They failed and God succeeded. Their god was dead, Elijah’s lived.

Parts of the Old Testament positively fizz and crackle with God’s direct involvement—the plagues in Egypt, the exodus, the pillars of cloud and fire in the desert—in contrast with the often long spells of God’s quieter support.

But whether it is small matters or great, all things are in God’s hands. So, do we reflect that in our lives?

Maybe we would not challenge our neighbours to an Elijah-style face off between their “dead god” and our living one. But do people see us as in any way “special”. Odd maybe, obsessive about religion, possibly. But special?

Elijah’s example prompts us to think about our lives and consider new/untried methods of preaching.

The Guardian newspaper recently listed the UK population’s religious affiliations, according to the 2001 census.

  • Nominal Christians topped the list with 37m,
  • Non- believers came next with 7.3m,
  • Muslims 1.5m,
  • Hindus 0.55m and
  • Jedi Knights 0.39m.
  • 14m had no view.

Our response should be to: “go out into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” We should avoid provoking on issues where we will not get agreement. Instead, stay faithful and true to our convictions, trusting that God will use us to call those he wants. We need to trust that the Holy Spirit is still with us in a way.

Like Jesus we need to show care and kindness. Like the apostles, we need to start gently and seek common ground. We need to build relationships first, then speak of the Gospel. People often give us an opportunity — “what’s the world coming to?” We need to use that, without being confrontational or judgemental. We need to enthuse, recognising that the Truth is caught, not taught.