Phil & Pam Morgan

Side by Side

Published 3 months ago • 2 min read

Side by Side by Phil

Long, long ago in a land far, far away... God’s people had messed up. As a result of their disobedience, God had allowed them to be conquered and taken into captivity first by the Assyrians, and then the Babylonians, who were in turn conquered by the Persians. During these sieges, the temple and wall around the capital city of Jerusalem were torn down. Nehemiah convinces his boss, the Persian king, to let himself and a bunch of exiled Jews go back to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls and temple and generally spruce the place up a bit. That briefly sums up chapters one and two of the Old Testament book of Nehemiah.

The work actually starts in chapter three. (Now would be a good time to read Nehemiah 3. Don’t worry, I’ll be here when you get back.) At first, this section looks like a long (aka boring) list of who was working and where. But instead of a bunch of unpronounceable names, I see a beautiful (and rare) picture of God’s people living and working in harmony. You find goldsmiths and city leaders working side by side. Merchants and priests, big wigs and common folk all pitching in to get the job done. No special treatment, no titles, no hierarchy... everybody is needed for the work to be accomplished and all of God’s children are equally important. Even the folks working on the dung gate. (Insert your own joke or witty comment here.)

Of course, we are humans and contrary by nature, so there had to be a few troublemakers. Verse 5 states “Next were the people from Tekoa, though their leaders refused to work with the construction supervisors.” We aren’t told if the leaders thought they were too good to work, didn’t like to take orders from someone else, didn’t agree with how the job was being done, or just woke up on the wrong side of the cot. Whatever the reason, the leaderless Tekoan people were right there doing their part. The lesson we can take from this - even if your church or denominational leadership is distracted by the latest squabble, you can still follow Jesus and do the job He has called you to do. You are important to God, and you are only accountable for your obedience, not anyone else’s.

Those brief moments when individuals within a church and churches within a community all come together to serve Jesus are a beautiful foreshadowing of our future in heaven, where sin, pride, selfish ambition and stubbornness will be a thing of the past. Arguing, gossiping, and cantankerousness are not found in the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5. That list starts with Love, Joy, Peace...

Let’s choose each day to be part of the peace and not part of the problem.

Amen brothers and sisters!
Phil and Pam

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