The Book of Nehemiah was based in a time when the people of God, the Jews of Israel were taken into exile and dwelt among the pagans of the
Babylonian/Assyrian regions- my biblical history is not flawless but if I am correct then Israel was taken by one of these nations and Judah was taken into exile by the other! See how the people of God fell into bondage because they failed to follow God and his ways?
Nehemiah 1:3-11 They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Then I said: “Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses. “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’ “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.” I was cupbearer to the king.
How does this OT book apply to us as 21st century believers in Christ though? Well, first Israel as well as Judah were the object of ridicule by their enemies, and the walls of the city Jerusalem had been torn down and its splendor destroyed! Eventually through repentence and seeking God the city was restored and its walls were rebuilt.
Yet, how can Christ followers of our time relate? Well how often have those who do not know Christ said, “Well look at those Christians and all their denominations and divisions! They cannot even get together and get along so why should we follow their Christ?”
Can’t blame them totally, after all a Christ follower is called to glorify his/her savior through their lives and if the Church of Jesus Christ bickers and divides and quarrels what do we have on those who do not know the Lord who fight amongst themselves? Are we really going to expect these lost folks to want to be found and enter the fold if we be like sheep constantly biting one another?
The Apostle Paul addressed the unruly Corinthian church in his letter over this very same issue!
1 Corinthians 3:3-4 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?
Christians may disagree on certain things doctrinally yet as long as the doctrinal disagreement does not go against scripture then it does not matter whether your Baptist, Pentacostal, or Calvanist or Arminian or this or that or whether your church has pews and an organ vs that church with chairs and a rock band. A more serious matter at hand is does this church or that church love Christ and uphold His Words? Does this church love one another as Christ commanded? Does this church long to see lost people saved, broken lives restored, and captives set free?
Did not Christ say:
Luke 9:49-50 “Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”
If that church down the road is following Christ and seeking His glory and honor and the lives of men and women for the kingdom then it does not matter if more people attend their gatherings or their steeple be higher or their programs be better! Rejoice that they are doing the work of Jesus and thank God that You to can do also even if your impact or reach may be smaller, rejoice! Rejoice over the success of another!
Each person who does the Lord’s work will be rewarded accordingly by the Lord- it is not competition but Team Work!