Connect Spring 2017
Recently I have been challenged by the story of Nehemiah through
our sermon series ‘Building the City of God’. He lived in a day when
worship was taking place but the people of God lacked their identity
and unity. After their exile, much of Jerusalem like the nation was
still in ruins and the people felt in a place of reproach and defeat.
Times were tough and had been for over a century.
Into this situation steps Nehemiah – not a priest but a career man in
a powerful position and with the ear to the Persian King, Artaxerxes.
After hearing the report, he chooses confession over blame, anguish
over indifference; then he goes to God in prayer then to the king
asking for favour. With the gracious hand of God and the permission
of the king, he travels to Jerusalem to inspire the work.
Like those previous believers, we have our own building project
before us and in some ways, the church in 21st Century Britain faces
similar challenges to those in Nehemiah’s day. To the world, the
church is seen as a remnant of a former glory and so often our
beliefs are met with reproach and distrust.
With that challenge comes a choice –
1, Will we accept things as they are and just get on with the rest
of our lives? Many in that day chose that option and for two
generations nothing was done. Like them we have our trials of life
so the temptation is always to postpone things for a quieter, happier,
healthier time…although they rarely ever come.
2, Or will we pick up our own tools and start rebuilding? This is
the costlier option by far; we will need to give of our time, our
money and our energy. Our building work isn’t with bricks and
mortars, but in the development of relationships, praying together,
serving in our ministries, committing to discipleship times, sharing
our faith, drawing in those on the edges and bringing relief to the
poor and hurting. The cost is great but so are the rewards.
Like those builders in the 5th Century BC, we will get to see God do
something amazing in our time. Like them, we will be able to point
at our part of the wall and say ‘That’s where I served, that’s where
my faith led to action’. But most wonderfully, option 2 brings us
closer to Jesus who poured His very life in the project we have
before us. Jesus said ‘I will build my church and the gates of hell
will not prevail against it’ (Matt 16:18). Choosing the second option,
picking up our tools again, committing our very lives again will bring
you into a fellowship with Jesus unlike any you have known before.
With love, Ben