For today, I want to focus on this point: What suffered the most when the people began to complain to Nehemiah about their current situation caused by the nobles and officials in Jerusalem? The work on the wall – or what I think the more proper way to put it is: God’s kingdom advance.
Because of the issues that were present between these two groups, it caused everyone to focus on their problems rather than their common goal. The enemy from the last chapter was from the outside. It was caused by Sanballat and Tobiah. But in this chapter, the enemy is within. And it was caused by those who knew and understand the law of Moses to neglect it for their own personal gain. They lived to advance their own kingdom to the neglect of His Kingdom.
And if I were being honest, disunity within the church is the primary reason why God’s kingdom does not advance like it should.
I was reading a story this week about a church back in the 1999 that was split into four different groups after 100 years of ministry. And what caused this split? The placement of a piano bench. It even caused a split in the leadership between the senior minister and his associates.
And so they came up with a solution that had to be mediated by an outside pastor so that each faction within the church could have their own service with their own pastor, because the senior minister and the associate ministers no longer talk to one another. The services will be timed far enough apart so one side will not run into members of the other three. And an outside party will come in and move the piano bench to the different and appropriate location for the services. And all this was done so that violence wouldn’t break out in the church.
If this church can’t even get along with one another, if the placement of a bench is greater than their love for Jesus, how can God’s kingdom advance?
So many times, we can focus on the little differences that don’t matter and make them bigger than our purpose as a church. We stop focusing on the One who pulls us together and look to the issues that can drive us apart. And so if we want to move forward as a church, together, in unity, we need to make sure there is nothing holding us back.
Was there a conflict in the past that is still an issue today? If you were the offended party, be willing to let the person know how they hurt you, and see if you two can be reconciled. If you were the one who hurt another, be willing to go and ask for forgiveness. If there is something else causing a roadblock with another member of the church family, go to them and be willing to talk about it.
When we allow small issues and hurts to fester, they can become bigger than the mission to go, baptize, and teach. We stop looking at what we should be doing together, and continue to look at the things that can tear us apart and cause disunity. I think that’s why Paul commanded us in Colossians 3:13: “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
If we are willing to do this, our focus can go back to the “wall,” which for our church is making sure every single person in this town knows who Jesus is, and professes Him as King and Lord!