Summary: Working together to build the church.
Text: Nehemiah 3
Title: Unity in the Body of Christ
I. Unity behind a common cause
II. Unity in the midst of diversity
III. Unity with humility
IV. Unity achieves excellence
When I first scanned over chapter 3 here I thought, great, just a laundry list of names. That’s not too exciting. My first inclination was to just skip right over it and move on to chapter 4 where the action picks back up. But then I actually read through the chapter and was amazed.
I have to admit, the more I read and stud y this book, the more I am just blown away at how down to earth and practically applicable it really is. This is a story written thousands of years ago, but it has some lessons that are so relevant to us today.
Even in this seemingly mundane chapter there is so much that jumped out at me. As I read through the chapter I realized that it is a perfect illustration of what unity in the Body of Christ is supposed to look like. It is an awesome example of how we are to build the kingdom of God.
There can be no greater purpose or goal for us as believers than to put our hands to the good work of building the kingdom of God. These guys were rebuilding the wall, but it is clear that so much more was going on. They were rebuilding a kingdom. And the way they went about their task is a great object lesson for how we are to go about the task of building the kingdom of God today.
I’m not going to read through the whole chapter with you this morning, but what I am going to do is walk through those key verses that give us a clear picture of what unity looks like.
Look at verse 1 with me…
First of all, unity comes when we are all committed to a common cause. That’s true in the world as well as in the church. The PTA is a group of parents committed to their children’s education. The Rotary Club is a group that meets to accomplish various service activities in their communities. The Sacramento Kings are a club that meets together for a common cause- to make other basketball teams feel good about themselves.
In the church this is no different. We are gathered together for a common cause- God’s glory.
Those who did the work on the wall understood that it was much more than just a simple building project. The first people Nehemiah mentions are the High priest and the other priests. They were not above putting their hands to the work of rebuilding. They were responsible for rebuilding the Sheep Gate; which makes sense because it was through that gate that the sacrifices to God would come.
The clearly understood that the work they were doing, even though it was menial labor, was for the purpose of honoring God. This gate and section of the wall are the only places that get this dedication. They were consecrated to God. The full ceremony of sacrifice to God could now take place. They were able to better worship God once that work was done.
We all need to be united behind that same common purpose. There is no doubt that there are many different reasons why people come into the church. Some come to find friendship, some come to heal up and recover, some come to lesson the guilt they feel for the things they do throughout the week.
But at some point we have to make sure that we are all on the same page. We gather together for the purpose of worshiping and honoring God. That’s why we were created. We must be careful not to fall into the trap that many churches fall into where we become just another social club. Where most of our time and attention goes to internal issues and we never turn our attention outward.
One of the worst things a church can do is become exclusivist and closed. When we stop reaching out to the community and the world around us with the gospel of Jesus Christ, then we become something other than what God designed us to be.
The reason for rebuilding the wall was so that God would receive honor and glory and worship. Not for personal gain, or even for security. But for God’s glory. Is that a cause you can get behind? Is it one worth working for?
Next, as you read through this chapter it is cool to see the amazing unity even in the midst of such diversity.
Let me just give you a cross section of who did the work-
3-4- Son’s- young men got to work
2, 5, 7- People from other towns