Malchijah the son of Rechab, ruler of the district of Beth-haccherem, repaired the Dung Gate. He rebuilt it and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars. (Nehemiah 3:14)
Sermons are rarely preached from Nehemiah 3. The chapter is a long list of tongue-twisting names who participated in rebuilding Jerusalem’s destroyed walls under Nehemiah’s leadership. Two errors can be made when this chapter is approached—skip it entirely or only focus on Nehemiah’s great leadership to get the people to work on the wall. When either of these errors are made, we miss the richness of God’s people stepping up to perform their part of the work to complete the task. Every name listed, including the Dung Gate guy, worked together on a common purpose to get the job done. We need to embrace the same mindset in our churches today!
It is easy for us to embrace a “me mentality” in ministry—“I am an elder”, “I am a Sunday school teacher”, “I lead worship”, or “I (fill in the blank)”. We often function as individuals in silos rather than as an essential component of the body. It is important for the local church to have a “we” mentality instead, where each Christ-follower serves in his or her unique capacity and calling for a greater whole— like we see in Nehemiah 3. When the silos come down, the gospel is proclaimed, disciples are made, communities are reached, and needs met.
I love classical music and have attended the symphony on several occasions. One of my favorite pieces is Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. If played by a violin, French horn, or tympani alone, it wouldn’t be impressive, even though the individual instrumentalist played well. But, when all of the instruments in the orchestra come together and play the piece- it is an awesome performance! The same is true in the local church. While each of us may be “playing our parts” well, God’s Symphony is not experienced until everyone plays together. In Nehemiah, those that came together rebuilt the wall, in our churches lives and eternities will be changed.
I pray that within the local church(es) we will keep our eyes on the Great Conductor, faithfully and obediently serving in our unique capacities—playing in the Symphony of the Lamb (in two movements: the Great Commandment and the Great Commission).
"Let us be banded together as one man; let us contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints; let us pray with fervor, let us live in holiness, let us preach constantly, and preach with fire, and let us so live, that we may impress our age, and leave our footprints on the sands of time."
- Charles Spurgeon