Being concerned for the glory of God

Being concerned for the glory of God

In 1 Kings 19, Elijah is having a hard time. He is on the run for his life from Queen Jezebel. He has been working hard to proclaim the message of God but has had little response. He is alone, far from home, hungry and tired, and he doesn’t see hope for the future.

What is it that concerns him most at that time? Let’s look at his answer when God asks him why he had come:

He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” (1 Ki. 19:10 ESV)

Yes, these are the words of a depressed man. Yes, they are self-indulgent, as we all tend to get when we are feeling down. He is not the only one left, but it sure feels like it.

But look at what Elijah is most concerned about here. His main complaint is not that life is hard or that the Queen is being mean to him. No, it is that God is not receiving the worship he deserves. God is not in his rightful place in Israel. The evidence for that includes the disregarding of the covenant and the killing of the prophets. Elijah’s predicament is not his main concern; his personal situation is one piece of evidence of a larger rejection of God.

I find that instructive. When we cry out to God in pain, often it is because something has happened that is hard for us or has impacted our comfort and peace. Maybe we missed a job opportunity or a visa is taking a long time. Maybe our relationships are difficult or our financial pressures are growing. Sure, we feel these things very strongly, but they are all about us. They are selfish concerns for us and those close to us. We might be only calling out to God like spoilt children a lot of the time, having been so richly blessed yet complaining when we don’t get everything we want.

We are called to more than that. The Lord’s Prayer instructs us to pray that God’s will be done. We should want God’s name to be hallowed or glorified. The main concerns of our prayers should be about God’s priorities, not only our own.

Does the fact that God is not getting the glory in your city bother you? Does the fact bother you that most of your work colleagues don’t follow Jesus right now, and if He came back today, they would face a terrible outcome? Most Christians would agree that these are bad things, and we’d love to see more people come to worship God. If that’s the case, we should be praying about these things. They should be among the most prominent things in our prayers.

We should spend time reflecting on the spiritual state of our cities. God deserves worship from everyone and is not receiving it from many. Let’s pray about this, even if sometimes it is a lament like Elijah prayed. Let’s ask God to show mercy on many. Who knows? If God answers that prayer, it will mean far more in eternity than most things we tend to pray for.