The work has started, but it’s not yet complete. We’ve come a long way, though, haven’t we?
Like Nehemiah, we’ve named the problem. We’ve used our resources and influence to address the problem. We’ve formulated a strategy and are working on the problem. Now it’s time to start being the Church. Remember, when we come together, it makes the enemy nervous.
Diversity in Christ
We are the Church regardless of our denominations, political opinions, cultural differences. We’re connected by a gospel, a story, a person—Jesus Christ—and He changes everything. And we need to start acting like one body.
We need to start acting like when one part of the Body hurts, we all hurt. We need to start acting like other people’s problems and burdens are our problems and burdens. Nehemiah decided what was happening in Jerusalem was his problem.
Calling in the burdens of others
We aren’t designed to carry our problems individually or by people-group. We’re all designed as the Church to carry one another’s burdens. What’s happening in the black community isn’t their problem, it’s our problem. We have allowed it to be their problem for way too long. What’s happening in Puerto Rico isn’t their problem, it’s our problem.
What’s happening with dreamers in this country isn’t their problem, it’s our problem.
There isn’t a political agenda here, we promise. This is simply asking: “As Christians and leaders, what are we going to do to help children and families who are in these dilemmas?”
What’s happening to children in impoverished countries isn’t their problem, it’s our problem.
What’s happening in homes who have kids with special needs isn’t their problem, it’s our problem.
What’s happening at the church around the corner from you that’s under-resourced isn’t their problem, it’s our problem.
What if we started acting like what is impossible is actually possible? Sometimes we may think it’s too idealistic to think this way. How can we actually fix all of that? Just try. Then you’re thinking like Nehemiah. If you keep doing what seems impossible, you’ll do more than you’ve ever done. And you can expect to see God in the process.
Personal calling from a personal God
Expect to see God, but not the God you expected. The people in Jerusalem were waiting on a miracle, because that’s the God they were used to.
Joshua played a trumpet and knocked down walls.
Moses raised his staff and parted the Red Sea.
David threw a rock and killed a giant.
Can’t God rebuild a broken wall?
It wasn’t long before Nehemiah’s volunteers became disillusioned with God.
But the God they didn’t expect showed up in a cupbearer and ragtag group of volunteers, and in just 52 days, that group of people did what seemed impossible. And it changed everything.
Those who were outside the walls changed their opinion about the God of Israel. Those who were inside the walls watched what the people did together, and listened to God in a way they never had before. And they worshipped like they had never worshipped before.
“The Levites instructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there. They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read.
“Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, ‘This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.’ For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.
“Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’
“The Levites calmed all the people, saying, ‘Be still, for this is a holy day. Do not grieve.’
“Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them,” (Nehemiah 8:7-12).
“From the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated like this. And their joy was very great,” (Nehemiah 8:17).
Working together for good
We may never fully see how our actions shape those around us or the future. But our hope is that you won’t let what seems impossible get in your way. We hope you raise a generation of children who, because of what you’ve done, will imagine a better world, and have a better understanding of what they can do and accomplish. God is bigger than a family or a local church.
Remember Nehemiah. Never forget to imagine. When it seems impossible, do it anyway. We are not only stewards of our resources, ministries, and churches. We are also stewards of a generation, and the way they see God.
What walls need to be rebuilt in your community? Who will you gather to help you?
How we work together will change the way a generation sees God.
This was originally posted on July 23, 2018. This is the fourth blog post in a series of four adapted from Reggie Joiner’s Orange Conference 2018 talk. To hear it live, join us for Orange Tour this fall, happening in 17 cities across the US.
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