The fourth in our series of sermons on Nehemiah under the general heading of “Don’t despair, be determined.”
Boring ….. Boring ….. Boring ….. Is the cry as this one phrase – “next to him/them” crops up on no less than 20 occasions! We might respond with Important ….. Important ….. Important ….. Because when God repeats himself it usually means that he has something significant to communicate.
The phrase speaks of togetherness in vision, because by now the people, including professional groupings, women and even religious leaders, had started to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, being skilfully deployed by Nehemiah so as to balance self interest (build near to your house) with the overall objective (rebuilding of the whole of the wall.)
This diverse group of people worked alongside one another with a real sense of togetherness and purpose, offering us a wonderful image of the local church, where God’s people work together side by side, using their spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12 v 17) in order to fulfil a God given vision by building their “section of the wall” while not losing sight of the bigger picture.
Challenge – Have you identified your spiritual gift and are you using it alongside others to build the church?
This may well be the ideal, and sadly not all churches function like this. Mind you even in Nehemiah’s day things were far from ideal, because if we look closely we shall discover some very different approaches to the vision, as illustrated by three types of worker/builder:-
1 – The Abstainers.
Not everyone was supportive of the vision because the nobles of Tekoa – “would not put their shoulders to the work under their supervisors” (v 5.)They became mere spectators and abstained from the work.
Not all will embrace a passionate vision to build the church because that will entail change and discomfort, and so it becomes easier to abstain and opt out.
2 – The Associates.
Most of the people who helped rebuild the walls were residents of Jerusalem, but some from outside the city did come to help – “the men of Jericho” (v 2);”the men from Gibeon and Mizpah” (v 7); and – “the residents of Zanoah” (v 13.) They associated themselves, but were not fully part of the community.
Some will associate with the vision of the church from time to time, occasionally coming along to offer a helping hand, but while remaining aloof and outside of the community; committed to Christ, but not to his people.
3 – The Adopters.
Some were very enthusiastic about the rebuilding vision such as Baruch (v 20); some, like Meremoth (v 4 & 21) and the men of Tekoah, despite the poor example of their nobles, (v 5 & 27) even did a double share of work, having fully adopted the vision with a whole hearted commitment to bring it to fruition.
Some will adopt the vision of the church with excitement and passion, energetically committing themselves to the work (Ecclesiastes 9 v 10); but they must not be taken advantage of and allowed to build too much in case they overdo it and burn out.
Challenge – What type of worker/builder are you?
Theme: Togetherness in vision – wall to wall rebuilding
Reading: Nehemiah 3 v 1 – 13
Preacher: Chris Hughes
Led by: Chris Hughes