Published August 23, 2016

Paul's Epistle
"Not Alone"

Sometimes Christians today can identify with the prophet Elijah who complained to God that, while Jezebel sought to kill him, "I alone am left; and they seek to take my life" (1 Kings 19:10). But God assured him that He had "reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal..." (v. 18). Elijah, in fact, was not alone, even humanly speaking. Nor had God forsaken him.

Given all the negative things said in the media about Christians, sometimes it does seem as if we're "alone" – that Christianity is on its way out, that there just aren't many Christians out there anymore, especially in places of prominence or genuine influence.

But that's a false narrative, created by those who wish Christianity would, indeed, go away.

That's why it's so encouraging when Christian testimonies actually make it to the national media. We saw some of that with the recent Olympics. Here are a few examples I happened to notice:

Olympic divers David Boudia and Steele Johnson, prior to their dive at the Olympics, quoted Philippians 4:6 ("Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God"). They went on to take a silver medal for the U. S. team.

Later, talking with NBC, they boldly said, "We both know that our identity is in Christ." Boudia said that knowing his identity was not rooted in the outcome of the competition, but rather in his relationship with Christ, gave him "peace." And that, he said, allowed him to enjoy the contest. "We can't take credit for this," Boudia said. "To God be the glory."

That was echoed by Simone Manuel, the first African-American woman to win a medal in an individual swimming event. And, in setting a new world record, she took a gold medal! "All I can say is all glory to God... I am so blessed."

Another world record was set by Wayde van Niekerk, smashing a seventeen-year old world record in the 400 meter track event. Later, in a televised interview with the BBC, he displayed his shoes which bore a prayer he had written on them: "Jesus, I am all yours, use me." Recalling his win, he said, "...the first thing I could think to do was to fall to my knees to thank God and to give thanks for having the chance to compete against such great athletes."

Elsewhere, recent TV news accounts of the extensive and devastating flooding in Louisiana and elsewhere have included interview clips with residents who have been driven from their homes by high water. Some, on national TV, have expressed their faith and confidence that the Lord would get them through all this. (One might cynically wonder how such comments actually got on the air.)

Interestingly – but not surprisingly – those people who expressed such faith appeared much more content, less devastated, than those who did not. Some were even smiling. They exhibited that "peace" that Boudia was talking about. And it's the kind of peace that only comes from a trusting relationship with the Lord.

No, we as Christians are not alone. And such examples as these – in triumph and in tragedy – should remind us each, once again, to rely on God and to give God the glory in all things. All things.  After all, as the 17th century Westminster Catechism declares, "The chief end of man is to glorify God." We individually need to do that at every opportunity – whether our audience is a neighbor or a coworker...or even worldwide. Even if your only "audience" is God Himself.

- Paul

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