“Because of all this we make a firm covenant in writing; on the sealed document are the names of our princes, our Levites, and our priests.” Neh 9:38 (ESV)
Let’s remind ourselves of the progression of Nehemiah Chapters 8-10. The Word of God, long neglected by this Israelite community, is dusted off and read. As the Word is read, it falls on fertile soil and spontaneous confession, repentance, and worship erupts, followed in 9:38 by a commitment to enter into a covenant to live obediently, with God-designed distinction.
You will see those God-designed distinctions identified in Chapter 10: honoring God in our homes, with our work, with the Sabbath, and finally our relationship with His church. We will see for the duration of this book that where our lives are concerned, living in God-honoring distinction while trying to remain culturally relevant will always pull us in opposite directions.
Because this is an age-old tension, centuries later, the Apostle Paul, speaking to this very issue, would write to followers of Jesus in Italy and say in Romans 12:2 (NLT):
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
This relevant-yet-distinct tension is something only the Spirit of Jesus can work out in all of us, and we need each other in the process to provide grace and truth along the way. Perhaps that’s why in Nehemiah 10, one of the core fruits of repentance was to honor the communal worship experience of the newly rebuilt temple.
“We will not neglect the house of our God” (Nehemiah 10:39).
When the people in Jerusalem said, “We will not neglect the house of our God,” they committed to observe the sacrifices and offerings required by God’s law. In that declaration, they renewed their commitment to obey God.
For those of us “in Christ”, we are all part of the house of God. 1 Peter 2:5 says, “You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house…” The church is not a building. The church is made up of people. And living for Jesus is more than showing up to church every week, singing songs, listening to a message or giving money. When our hearts have been truly changed, every area of our lives is affected.
PCC, something special happens when we commit to advancing the church together. There is synergy as we pull together with common purpose. We are unstoppable because God is unstoppable in us. Together, we can make a difference in our neighborhoods, places of work, and on the peninsula.
This Sunday we will step again into the first recorded revival in the Bible. Will you do me a favor? Will you read up in Nehemiah 8-10 and ask God what in your life, in your relationships, in your work, and in our gathering as a church is distinct as a follower of Jesus? I look forward to gathering on Sunday.
I love being your pastor,