Why am I telling this story about Elijah and the drought? Because I think sometimes, Christians are too guilty of developing a prophetic blind spot. We believe that because we're the ones speaking the truth, it somehow won't apply to us.
The world calls this hypocrisy, and it's one of the things they most criticize the church for. But I'm not convinced that it's actually hypocrisy. A hypocrite is someone who doesn't believe that the same rules apply to them, someone who is always holding others to a different standard than she holds herself to. I don't think this is true of most Christians.
I think we're just arrogant.
I think we believe the rules apply to us, but that we also believe that we're already fulfilling them. I think we believe that we are sinners, but we have this sense that we used to be sinners - we're not any more. I think we believe that God's grace is for all of us, but we also believe that we have accepted so much of that grace that we don't need it any more. I think we know the rules apply to us, but we've convinced ourselves that we're not breaking any of them. I don't think we're hypocrites; I think we're arrogant.
And we read our arrogance right into the stories of God. So much so that when we read this prophetic word of Elijah, we think that he, too, is exempt from God's Word. He's speaking it, but he's not going to have to live through the drought. He's telling the king, but he will not suffer from the famine. After all, he's God's prophet, right? He's the one speaking the truth. So obviously, just like the rest of us, he's going to escape it.
We forget that the Bible tells us that God's judgment rains down on the righteous and the unrighteous alike. That's exactly what this passage is saying - that just because you're righteous doesn't mean you escape what God is doing in the world. It doesn't mean you're exempt from the re-creation of all things. It doesn't mean you're not part of what God is up to here.
It's amazing because so many of us have even convinced ourselves that because we are so righteous, when Christ went to the Cross, it wasn't for us. It wasn't because of our sin. It wasn't because we needed Him. All of those other folks did, and we get to benefit from His grace poured out, but if the world had been full of persons like us, He wouldn't have had to go to the Cross at all. And then, we look down our noses at all of those...sinners.
No, we're not hypocrites; we're arrogant.
Contrast that with what we see of Elijah. There is not a single hint of anything in this story that gives us the sense that Elijah thought he would somehow escape the drought. In fact, he immediately begins preparing himself for it. He immediately listens to God's plan for getting him through it. He doesn't protest or try to declare his own righteousness. He doesn't make a case that he's the one speaking the truth, so the truth somehow just passes through him or passes over him and doesn't impact his life. He knows that he's about to go hungry, too, but God's Word is more important to him. He gets that it is a Word just as much for him as for the rest of the people of God.
What's up with that? Why didn't Elijah just declare his righteousness and take a pass? Why didn't he protest when his own stomach started to grumble? Why didn't he just remind God of what a good person he is and how often he goes to church and how many times a day he prays and get God to send some rain on his own little parcel of land?
Because that's not the way God works.