Thursday, 31 January 2013

Heart broken people

The book of Nehemiah is a challenge in many senses, its a challenge to those who would profit from the poverty of others, its a challenge to those who don't allow their faith to affect how they live, its a challenge to those who cause trouble for or among God's people.

As I have been preparing sermons from the book another thing struck me, Nehemiah is a man who spends a lot of time seeking God because his heart has been broken by the state of God's city and people. First he hears of the state of Jerusalem after the return of the Israelites from exile (ch1), then risks his life because of that (ch2). When trouble flares its to God he turns looking to honour God. Chapter 5 finds him angry at the state of the people and what they are doing to each other, because it reflects on God's honour.

In an age of rapidly changing press stories and where we are bombed out with pictures of underprivileged nations, starving children, war and destruction, it is all too easy to remain unaffected by these things. Nehemiah was cup bearer to the king, an important official, he did not need to be concerned with Jerusalem but he was. He did not need to be concerned with the people in Jerusalem once he arrived, so long as they built the wall, he could have had his own supplies by right. He chose to be concerned to sort things out and chose not to exercise his rights.

God's honour was Nehemiah's main concern, today we can so easily accept things as they are, accept the social norms that are pushed onto God's people by society and government. I guess the big question for Christians is Will we be concerned about God's honour in these things or will we let it pass us by while we get on with our lives? Can we allow ourselves to be broken hearted for the things that break God's? It takes people who are heart broken by what they see and hear, heart broken enough to, like Nehemiah, make themselves heard, who stand up for truth, morality, justice, mercy.

A song we have been using in church recently echo's this with the words ...

"Break my heart for what break yours, everything I am for your Kingdom's cause ..."

Are we broken hearted? There is a price to being heart broken for God, What's on God's heart may well be in opposition to what our culture or the country we live in wants to do. Nehemiah left the security of his position (offered his life), faced opposition and trouble (stood firm) but through relying on God, saw the result of God's call on his life (God's work completed).