Summary: All of us have fallen short of God’s expectations but that does not prevent us from being used by God in His work because all of us are justified freely by God’s grace through Jesus Christ when we repent and act. Grace is receiving from God what we can’t
Redeeming Broken and Reclaiming the Least
Nehemiah 3: 12-14
John Wesley was the founder of the people called Methodists. Throughout his more than 50 years of ministry, he traveled more than 225,000 miles on horseback, wrote thousands of letters and preached more than 40,000 sermons. He was an advocate for the poor and marginalized. He named and fought against society’s four great ills,: poverty, ignorance or lack of education and disease and war. He created the first credit union as a way of helping the poor avoid debtors’ prison. He fought against the slave trade and for better conditions in prisons, built schools and almshouses, homes for the elderly poor and indigent. He established free medical dispensaries. He started the first Sunday School, to provide educaion for the children working in the factories six days a week. Today, some 78 denominations with members totaling 76 million -- consider him a spiritual father. Despite all of this, he still struggled in his personal life. Even though Wesley was deeply connected to the heart of God, he was distant in his relationship to his wife. Wesley married Molly Vazeille in 1751 and they stayed together for almost two years. But for a lot of that time, Wesley was on the road traveling from one community to the next checking on his preachers and the people called Methodist. As a result, he and Molly argued so much that he moved out. They tried to reconcile several times and each time it looked like they were going to make it but then he would move out again. They never divorced but they also never experienced Christian marriage as God intended it. Now Wesley excelled in a lot of areas and he was perhaps the most influential man of God since the time of Martin Luther and the Reformation and yet one area was in shambles. Wesley always preached about grace, I think in part because John Wesley was broken and he knew it.
When God seeks to heal brokenness in the world, He uses broken people. Our brokenness is directly tied to our humanness. In other words, if you are human, you have some brokenness in your life. Romans 3:23 says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The good news is that God can redeem your humanness and brokenness and use it for His greater purpose. Because of our humanness, all of us experience brokenness. As a result, God seeks to redeem his children. Redemption comes from experiencing the power of God’s grace. But you cannot experience the full redemption of God if you don’t experience the redemption offered to us through Jesus Christ in every area of your life. Throughout all of Scripture, there is a persistent theme: God uses broken people to restore life, bring healing and giving purpose in other broken people.
That leads us to our first Scripture verse today. You’ve heard the saying, “Dung happens.” Well, sometimes dung doesn’t just happen, we bring it upon ourselves. Verse 14 “The Dung Gate was repaired by Malkijah son of Recab, ruler of the district of Beth Hakkerem. He rebuilt it and put its doors and bolts and bars in place.” The worst assignment in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem was the Dung Gate. No one wanted that job and no one wanted to be associated with the Dung Gate. The Dung Gate was just that, the place where everyone in Jerusalem came and dumped their human waste and all of their trash. This was the gate which opened and led right to the city dump so every man, woman and child dumped their waste there day in and day out. Who would want to work on a place like this? The sight, the smell! Any place but the Dung Gate. Who had the privilege to work on this Gate? His name was Malkijah. He was a prominent priest who lived in the city. He was a holy man, someone who was called to follow the law to the letter, to exemplify holiness in the city and to lead others to do the same.
How did Malkijah get assigned to such a crummy job? In Ezra 10:18, 20 there is a list of priests who were convicted of intermarriage with the Gentiles, which was forbidden by God’s law the moment they entered the Holy Land, but even more so for a holy man of God. To marry a Gentile who worshipped pagan gods was not only considered unclean and impure but unholy. Why? The Gentiles didn’t worship and serve the one true God and they didn’t follow the food laws of the Bible. Thus, a Gentile was sure to lead any spouse away from God. So here you have a priest who was supposed to set the standard for holiness during the day but by night he was sleeping with the enemy. Think about that, because God said you shall have no other gods but me. As a result, Malkijah was demoted to a dismal job. But note this: he was still not dismissed from God’s purpose of rebuilding the brokenness which surrounded everyone. Is that the good news? Sometimes you have been demoted or relegated to the worst responsibilities but the good thing about God is that God demoted Malkijah but he did not dismiss him from serving God’s greater purpose in the world.