In the Old Testament reading for today Nehemiah raises the issue with God regarding what he should be remembered for. Heather and I have been in ministry for over 35 years in various Dioceses and Parishes – what would we like to be remembered for? In one Parish we built a new Rectory, a new Church building, an assistant minister’s house, and moved another house onto a block of land that the church owned. In another place we reconfigured an old Rectory into a much needed Parish Hall. In another we set in train the vision of extend the Church building to make a church hall – and so on. Do we want God to remember us for all these things? Of course not.
In this reading, in the last chapter of the book that bears Nehemiah’s name, we find the clearest expression of this great Old Testament leader’s heart. In his “remember me” statements, Nehemiah identifies those actions which he sees as his most significant service for the Lord.
What is striking about the list is that nowhere does Nehemiah say, “Remember me, O Lord, for the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls.” This might have been the one accomplishment which his contemporaries might have seen as most important, but it isn’t even mentioned!
It is helpful for us to remember this in a day when so many churches just have the goal of building buildings, rather than building great networks over which the Gospel can be heard into the future.
Building buildings is certainly a worthy endeavour – our building here at FAC is a mighty resource for the gathering of the saints and for Gospel proclamation, just as the building of the wall of Jerusalem was a worthy and holy endeavour. But, having said that, we see in Nehemiah 13 no mention that this was the most important of Nehemiah’s spiritual endeavours.
For Nehemiah, what was most important was promoting the worship of God (v.14). It was for helping Judah honour God by keeping the Sabbath Day holy (v.22). It was insisting that those who served the Lord remain pure (v.30).
What mattered most to Nehemiah was his impact for God on the lives of the men and women of his own time and into the future.
It is a blessing for us to see this in Nehemiah and praise God we are doing the same. The whole Figtree church shares in our “Intern” programme. That is going to be a great blessing to many down through the years.
What else can we do?
We can encourage other men and women at Figtree Anglican Church to worship the Lord in “spirit and truth”’ – to be “living sacrifices” in the joys and tragedies of our lives – to call on God in faithful obedience.
We can encourage others that we know to honour the Lord Jesus more fully. He died for us, so that we can live for Him.
We can make the promise to remain pure – not be stained by the world, to be “in the world, but not of the world”.
This fits with our current “Just One” sermon series because this passage reminds us that it is more important to touch one life for God than it would be to build the most magnificent city.
Have a great day,