Transition is a popular theme at the moment as certain people reach a certain stage of maturity! So it was fascinating on Sunday to speak on the theme of Elijah’s preparation and release of Elisha as the one who would take on his mantle.
I have been occasionally speaking at CCK on the life of Elijah over a two-year period, and began on Sunday by pointing out that, though individual life stories can be fascinating, in reality they are not the whole story. Though one life or ministry comes to its conclusion, God’s story, the one that really matters, continues.
As a nation, Israel gave high priority to passing on its heritage to the next generation. Honouring your parents and being wise sons who obey parental counsel was hugely significant. Their world view was shaped by the rehearsing of their history and anticipating their future inheritance.
So Elijah’s disciple needed to be equipped for a ministry that would be wholly consistent with what went before while also developing new dimensions.
Elijah responded to God’s command and initiated what proved to be a loving, open-handed and respectful relationship. Elisha was wholehearted in his response, ‘burning his bridges’, saying goodbye to his past and throwing himself unreservedly into his God-appointed training programme, which proved magnificently fruitful as he ultimately entered into his own particular God-given role, similar yet different, discipled but not cloned.
Jesus told his disciples, ‘go and make disciples’. The apostles obeyed by starting churches, not for mere ‘church-goers’ but where individuals could be ‘apprenticed’ by others who lovingly accept them because Christ has, yet also take responsibility in ‘one-anothering’, mutual discipling, encouraging, admonishing, restoring and equipping.
Maturity and fruitfulness are the goals of a discipling relationship. We need to emulate Elijah’s and Elisha’s great example by embracing life-imparting friendships in local church life that develop us into our full potential in God.
Elisha’s final request, namely a passionate appeal for a double portion of the Spirit that was resting on Elijah, is a great reminder to us that we will never fulfil our Master’s ambitions for us without the same promised outpouring of the Spirit on our lives.
How can we continue the work that our Master started without the power that He enjoyed? Praise God that the promise of the Holy Spirit is for us and for as many as the Lord calls to be his disciples (Acts 2:39).