Nehemiah 3 Building the city of God;
Psalm 133 Unity attracts Godís blessing
Ephesians 2:17-22 Christ Body is made up of ALL SORTS
Nehemiah, a man of prayer, was released from his duties by the King of Persia so he could become Governor of Jerusalem. He had a burden to see the city of Jerusalem rebuilt and the people of God organized into a unified community. Re-building the city walls gave them unity of purpose and became an act of worship to honor the Lord they served. This chapter is a list of the people involved.
What is amazing about this list and the following accounts about what happened is that their unity of purpose was perfectly complemented by their diversity of operations, activities, responsibilities and gifts. The fruit of this unity in diversity was that the wall was rebuild the whole way around Ė with no gaps Ė in 52 days. The world understands about unity in diversity, and we can see it in action whenever there is a disaster like a bushfire or flood. The challenge to us as Christians is to show a unity of love and respect and purpose that makes even the world sit up and take note.
So what can we learn from this passage?
Firstly, everyone was committed to Re-building ONE Wall.
It was a community project, not just people repairing their own places. In the church, our gifts and abilities and skills are for others, not just for ourselves. Jesus modeled servant hood.
Secondly, everyone was assigned to a particular section of the wall.
Most were given a section near where they lived, unless they had special skills and duties that were needed elsewhere. A variety of skills and methods and approaches were required.
Nehemiah was the overseer, and he had officials who helped him to deal with the many issues and problems that arose. It is the role of the Holy Spirit to oversee the work of the whole church not us. He expects us to be faithful in the places He has puts us, and to give Him our best.
Thirdly, everyone understood that they were doing the Lords work, not their own.
It was Godís presence and their commitment to His purposes that enabled them to lay aside differences and to work as one in fulfilling the task. Eliashib the high priest worked at the Sheep Gate Ė the place of consecration and the place of both the beginning and the ending of the work. His role as priest was to lead them in prayer and worship throughout the project, to teach them the scriptures, to tell them what God expects, and to lead the people in services of dedication when the project was completed.
In the NT every Christian has a priestly role that involves prayer and service. Everything we do ought to be for the glory of God and His purposes. Without Godís presence and blessing, nothing of eternal significance can be achieved, no matter how hard we try, or how good the program is.
Fourthly, everyone supported each other when opposition threatened the work.
External opposition and internal disagreements did not stop the work because almost everyone was committed to the task and was willing to link in with the other teams (households) on either side of them. Some, like Baruch and the Tekoites, were full of zeal and willing to take on extra responsibilities. This willingness, compensated for those who wouldnít help, and released others like Eliashib to do other important work. Their unity of purpose both in prayer and service enabled them to stand firm.
Finally, when Godís people are doing what God wants, there is unity in diversity.
Most people on that list had very little to do with the rest, apart from their nearest neighbors. But, they would have had to put aside differences with those they had to work near; otherwise the work would have suffered. Diversity becomes an asset that enables all the niches in the wall to be filled. When everyone is being faithful to the tasks God has given them, rather than being sidetracked by a need to grandstand or compete or criticize, then Gods work will thrive. In Christís Kingdom, He is the Lord and we are all servants. We will have differences and disagreements that may result in us not being able to do some things together, but that does not change the fact that we are brethren. We will have to wait for that perfect unity that is to come, but Jesus clearly expects us to show the world what He is like by our love. As Christians, we have a unique contribution to make in the world, even as we rub shoulders with people and have to ride the same roller-coaster called life. Our primary mandate as disciples of Christ is to Know HIM and to Make HIM Known, because ONLY CHRIST can give the words of eternal life and a hope that cannot be shaken or burned up.