Just Call Me Elijah
This morning I was reading in the book of James as part of my sermon preparation for Sunday. As I was finishing up, I came across James 5:16, which says: “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” My first thought was, “Well, that counts me out!”, because I definitely do not see myself as a “righteous person”. I definitely still struggle with sin, as every human does. So it’s hard to think of ourselves as “righteous” when we know the temptations and sin we continue to wrestle with.
However, the good news is that those of us who have put our faith in Christ ARE righteous! Not because of anything we’ve done, but because Jesus has deposited His righteousness into us. 1 Corinthians 1:30 describes it like this: “Christ made us right with God; He made us pure and holy, and He freed us from the power of sin.” So Christ has actually become our righteousness. That means what James says in this passage DOES apply to us - because we have been made righteous through the work Christ did on the cross.
Probably one of the best examples of how this works is given to us by James himself, as he goes on and writes in 5:17 that: “Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years!” Usually when we think of Elijah, we remember things like him outrunning chariots, raising the dead, calling fire down from heaven, and stopping the rain with his prayers. So when we think about all of those things, it's hard not to see him as almost superhuman. However, what we can’t forget is that, after his great act of faith in his battle with the prophets of Baal, Elijah turned right around and ran away in fear when he heard Queen Jezebel wanted him killed.
What that shows us is that Elijah was human - just like we are. He had weaknesses - just like we do. He stumbled in his walk with God - just like we do. Yet, when James needed an example of the power of a righteous man's prayers, he chose Elijah. And in doing so, he helps us understand that it is God who gives us our righteousness. It comes through the death and resurrection of Christ, not through our own actions.
So what does all of this mean for us? Well, it means we can confidently bring our prayer requests to God without worrying that He won't listen to us because we're not perfect. It means we can boldly go before God, cast our cares on Him, and know that He will hear us and lift our burdens. It means that if Elijah could have the faith to believe God for great things, even knowing how human he was, then we can do the same.
So today, let’s be like Elijah and believe God has the power to do great things. Let’s trust the Bible when it tells us that we have been made righteous through the death and resurrection of our Savior. Then let’s confidently bring our prayers and praises to God - knowing He loves us, forgives us, and will hear us.