Summary: When the Jewish people lost focus and became bitter against each other, Nehemiah brings them back into focus.
When We Lose Focus
Nehemiah 5: 1-19
Intro: News article taken from the archives of Landover Baptist church in Maryland.
100 years of Christian fellowship, spiritual love, Godly unity, and community growth ended last Tuesday in a fit of congregational discord not to be rivaled in this century. Holy Creek Baptist Church was split down the middle like the tabernacle cloth that tore at the point of our Lord's crucifixion. It is said that one could hear that rip a hundred miles away. Holy Creek Baptist was severed from the once stalwart cord of unity that bound them together. The fist of discord has pounded an army of Christian soldiers into two disheveled, unorganized factions of estranged members.
. The source of the dissention, a piano bench.
. This bench had been sitting beside a piano on the stage for years and years. Some wanted to get rid of it, some wanted to move it to a different place and some wanted to leave it right where it was.
. The church literally split over a piano bench.
. Here is the ending of the article.
. At present, Holy Creek Congregation will be having four services a day. There has been an unspoken agreement mediated by Pastor Deacon Fred of the Landover Baptist Church. Each faction will have it's own separate service with it's own separate pastor. Since the head pastor is not speaking to the associate pastor, each will have their own service, which will be attended by factioned members. We are told that the services are far enough apart that neither group will come into contact with the other. An outside party will be moving the piano bench to different locations and appropriate positions, between services, so as to please both sides, and avoid any further conflict that could result in violence.
. These folks are ready to literally fight here in this church.
. I would say that these folks have lost their focus, wouldn’t you?
. We hear stories like this all the time.
. People talk of unity but they can’t get the I out of the middle of the word.
. You see, we lose focus when, what’s in it for me, becomes the focus.
.Our scripture this morning addresses a conflict within the congregation of God.
. We are back in Nehemiah after a rather long interlude.
. Let’s review for just a minute.
. Remember in chapter one Nehemiah had to step out of his comfort zone.
. He had a great job as the kings cupbearer but God had called him to perform a great task.
. He left his cushy job and went back to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
. In chapter two Nehemiah gives us the great example of how to get things done.
. He modeled the attributes of action that a Christian should exhibit.
. In chapter three Nehemiah modeled teamwork for us.
. He showed how through teamwork, the people of God can accomplish any task that God has set before them.
. Then in chapter four, he showed us that no matter what happens, we can depend on God.
. God was and is our safety net.
. This morning we are in chapter five.
. The community is starting to self destruct.
. They have grievances and a church split is inevitable if they can’t get things straightened out.
. The workers now face a new enemy who is harder to conquer than the previous ones. The timing could not have been worse because the walls are almost done! Nehemiah has to put down his hard hat and turn his attention from the construction of the wall to the walls that were being put up between his workers. While their external enemies helped to rally the people, internal conflict threatened to divide and destroy them.
. They had been focused on the wall as a community but now they were losing focus and some were taking advantage of others.
. People tell me that when a group of horses face an enemy attack they stand in a circle and face each other. This way, with their back legs they can all kick at the attacker.
. They can stand united and defend themselves no matter which direction the attack comes from.
. I’m told that donkeys do just the opposite. They stand facing out and when they try to defend themselves they wind up kicking each other.
. Too many times, groups or organizations or churches act too much like Donkeys and wind up kicking and hurting each other.
. The community was starting to attack each other and Nehemiah had to address the issues.
. Instead of reading all our scripture and coming back to particular verses, this morning we will read and stop and examine Gods word as we go.