Often people are confused when speaking about churches. There are many church buildings closing these days around the nation. When living in England during the 1970s we often noticed many church buildings closed, boarded up and abandoned or turned into warehouses or other functions. It was then that I noted that these buildings really were not churches because only people can makeup a church. Christian people are the church, not the physical building identified as a meeting place. Christian people are the church, and wherever they happen to exist they are representing Christ and hopefully sharing His Word with those around them. Obviously, some of these people do a better job representing Christ than others.

When the physical doors of a church building are closed, the people who have met there need to find another assembly with which to identify and worship because Scripture says that we are not to forsake “the assembly of ourselves together, as the manner of some is” but we are to encourage and inspire one another (Hebrews 10:25). Shutting the doors of a building does not justify closing the hearts and minds to Christ Jesus or His people.

Christians and their churches are endangered by Satan and his evil colleagues, both human and supernatural. This is not new. This assault and aggravation has always existed, since the very beginning when the Devil came as a talking serpent deceiving Adam and Eve in the garden. There has always been a constant and callous attack on God’s Word and on His people.

There was a time in the Old Testament similar to our day when God’s Word and His people were under attack. The Prophet Elijah lived in that time that mirrors our day. This incident is applicable to us in this day. In 1 Kings 18:21 Elijah spoke to the people saying, “How long halt you between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal (Satan), then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.”

This is about choices!

A lot has been said in our day about freedom of choice to justify people doing whatever they want to do.

Not only do women demand to have a choice regarding their yet to be born child, but Christians need to realize they also have a choice. We have a choice as to which road we are going to take as individuals and as a nation, a city, a county or a state.

We face a fork in the road and we must decide which direction we are going to take.

God demands that we decide for Him. Elijah challenges us again today—God or Baal? The vast majority today have chosen to follow Satan and Baal.

Saying nothing is to take a position and it isn’t for God.

People today are not only silent when faced with this choice. They are intolerant, hateful and violent. Jesus is the most hated person in all the world and history. Those who confess Him and follow Him are hated. Jesus is not only hated in foreign lands. He is hated here in the United States. If you are a Christian and speak for Jesus and present His Word you will be hated also.

Some church people don’t think you should call attention to specific sins, such as murdering babies in the womb (abortion), homosexuality, gender transition and related evils because it offends personal sensibilities or political allegiances. We need to raise questions about these offensive sins. Questions cause people to think and they demand answers. Elijah asked a simple question that demanded people take a stand—How long will you waver between two opinions?” This question stressed the choice—whose side are you on?

There are only two sides—right and wrong? God or Satan? There is no neutrality! Are you on God’s side or on Satan’s side? There is a winning side and a losing side. In the end God is going to win. In this battle between good and evil, right and wrong, God and Satan, it is difficult to understand why anyone with any intelligence would side with Satan and evil. You may not want to make a decision or vote, but whatever you do or say counts. God takes sides and we need to be ready to stay with Him. Whatever we do or say has an influence. We do not live in a vacuum, but in a world of cause and effect. What we are, what we believe, what we say, what we do sets in motion a “ripple effect” that touches millions ultimately. We have a contagious effect. Ultimately, we touch millions, we join millions. This is certainly true in our nation at the present time in every facet of life—moral, social, political, religious and governmental. Elijah’s challenging question received a condemning response—the people said nothing! That is a devastating description of God’s people in that day. It certainly applies to people in our day. You cannot remain neutral.

The closing of physical buildings is not the worst evil, but it represents a greater, more deadly evil—the demand that we not only allow evil but that we embrace evil as good and acceptable. So the momentum of evil is demanding that we surrender good and God and all associated elements. The effort is to destroy any vestige of decency and Christianity in our country and the world. Many are the evil ones, even as in Elijah’s day—850 false prophets of Baal and most of the people.

Elijah was one against many, but he didn’t doubt God and he didn’t back down. He saw an opportunity to reveal God’s reality and to demonstrate that God reigns supreme. After the challenge, Elijah “repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down.” The altar was broken down because no one was using it, including the priests and religious leaders who had been too busy pursuing goofy leaders and goofy gods while letting the altar become broken down.

Every Christian has a spiritual altar in his soul and determine the condition of that altar whether it is broken down and unused or is daily used and open to God.

We need to rebuild altars at which to worship God and honor Him in what we think, say and do.

We need to contradict the lies in Washington, Austin and at home that dishonor God and promote evil.

As citizens we need to demand truth and work to keep our church doors open to share God’s Word and witness. Whose side are you on? What do you think?

Share your thoughts at drjerryhopkins@yahoo.com . You may also reach me by “snail” mail at Dr. Jerry Hopkins, P. O. Box 1363, Marshall, Texas 75671.

— Dr. Jerry Hopkins is a retired university professor