Summary: If we want to win the war for the soul of our nation, we must commit ourselves to the Word of God and to the House of God.
Krish Kandiah, president of the London School of Theology, talks about growing up in the United Kingdom, where his family could always count on their next-door neighbor, Mrs. Oglive, to be around. They left a spare key with her in case they got locked out. They forgot their keys quite often, and she was always there – morning, afternoon, and night – to let them in.
Mrs. Oglive never went out. She suffered from agoraphobia, the fear of open spaces. Having lived next door to her for 40 years now, he never saw her venture past her doorway. She wasn't always that way. She has pictures on her mantelpiece of less anxious days, from her honeymoon with Mr. Oglive and from a day at the beach with her children. But after her husband died, Mrs. Oglive began to isolate herself. “As a child”, Kandiah says, “I saw opportunity in this.” Her [front yard] resembled a jungle, and he earned some pocket money by pretending to be Indiana Jones, armed with a machete, slicing through the undergrowth, clearing the path to her front door.
Kandiah says, “As an adult, I can only imagine the heavy cloud of fear and frustration that surrounds her.” Now frail and in the twilight of life, Mrs. Oglive's curtains are almost always drawn. But now and then, he still gets locked out, and as she hands him the spare key, he is glad to see she is still alive.
Kandiah says he sees parallels between Mrs. Oglive and the contemporary church. Many Christians observe the world from behind closed curtains, bemoaning culture instead of engaging it. Many local churches are isolated from the wider community… suffering from fear of an open public square with divergent viewpoints and lifestyles. (Krish Kandiah, “An Explosion of Joy,” Christianity Today, June 2014; www.PreachingToday.com)
That’s especially true as our culture becomes more and more hostile to Biblical values. However, Jesus calls His church to impact its culture, to be salt and light in a dark and decaying world, not to cower in fear within the four walls of its facilities.
In John 15, Jesus warns us that the world will hate us, because it hated Him. Even so, He asks us to “bear witness” of Him in partnership with the Holy Spirit who also bears witness of Him (John 15:18-27).
The question is: How can we be effective in that witness? How can we effectively impact our culture? How can we win the battle for the soul of our nation? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Nehemiah 10, Nehemiah 10, where the people of Israel in Nehemiah’s day make a couple of commitments as they battle for the soul of their nation.
Nehemiah 10:28-29 The rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the temple servants, and all who have separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the Law of God, their wives, their sons, their daughters, all who have knowledge and understanding, join with their brothers, their nobles, and enter into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law that was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord and his rules and his statutes. (ESV)
The people of Israel commit themselves, 1st of all, to God’s Law. They swear to keep it, calling on God to curse them if they don’t.
Now, I don’t recommend swearing oaths and making promises to God you may or may not keep. The Bible is very clear: “It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it” (Ecclesiastes 5:5, NIV). Such oaths can get you into a lot of trouble, and they are unnecessary.
Warren Wiersbe says, “We don’t succeed as Christians because we make promises TO God, but because we believe the promises OF God and act upon them” (Warren Wiersbe, Be Determined, p.121). You see, we often fail to keep our promises, but God never fails to keep His.
A 91-year-old woman spent an hour every day reading her Bible. Her mind was about gone, so people often asked her, “What good is it to read your Bible if you can’t remember what you read?”
The woman always replied, “I’m in pretty good health, have a roof over my head, and have plenty of food to eat… I also have two sons and one grandson who love me dearly. My cup runneth over. I am not concerned about my memory. I just do my reading and God does the remembering.” (Bible Illustrator)
We may forget God’s promises. Hey! We forget our own promises sometimes, but God never does. That’s why it’s better to depend on His promises to you rather than your promises to Him. The people of Israel make a promise to God here in Nehemiah 10, but just three chapters later, they will do the very things they promised not to do.