Everyone Takes Part
?Everyone Takes Part? Neh. 3:1-12; 1 Cor. 12:4-7 9-8-13
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Today we are celebrating leadership in the church. We have the Presbyterian Women officers being installed, and we will elect deacons and elders in the church. Leaders are great, but if no one follows their lead, the leadership has failed. We do not elect the leaders to do everything. Rather we elect leaders to help us- and equip us to do the work of the Lord. Leaders point out where the work is to be done and how we might do it. Being a leader means leading the way- it means taking people with you on the journey. If no one is following- or if the leader is not taking part, nothing happens. I am amazed at how Nehemiah plugged right in. He was on the walls doing work, he inspected the walls, he was active in not just planning but right in there and could tell you who took part at what section- that is the record that we have today. We can learn much from this book on leadership and the way people responded.
I. PEOPLE FROM DIFFERENT LOCATIONS HELPING- For the most part- the people built the section of the wall outside their own house. But there were people who came from outside- like the people of Jericho who took part. Everyone from every quarter of the city of God- or from every side- every dimension of the church came together to help. Paul spoke of the body of Christ as diverse but one. I like the image of the movie ?Epic?: one tree many leaves.
The names here mean that they didn?t mind making transparent who gave– and it was everyone- or almost everyone as we shall see in a minute. No matter where they lived- in the city out of the city they built together. Many would not benefit directly from having the wall up but they took part anyway for the glory of God.
So, it is important that we see the vision- that the building up of our church- helps all of us in the church– not just those with children. Already so many have take part. The Preschool developed and sold cookbooks, magnets, flowers; The Ashley Shealy Nursery Fundraiser where about 500 came; the Rib Cook off raised hundreds of dollars; Hundreds are helping with planning. Some of you can give very little monetarily- I invite you to give what you can- but look for other ways to give your ideas and time.
II. PEOPLE FROM DIFFERENT PROFESSIONS HELPING- goldsmiths, women (daughters) all took part. Everyone- young, old, men and women, rich and poor all took part. The beauty of this work is the diversity of those who took part. Nehemiah was governor but he was not above working on the walls. Verse 8 says that people who worked with jewelry- goldsmiths– what did they know about masonry? They worked on the walls. Perfume-makers– what did they know about construction? I could almost hear them say, ?Lord, I have no idea how to do this– or how I?m going to have the time and money to do this.? Nehemiah could have said, ?Lord I can?t build a wall- I?m a cupbearer.? But God takes what we have and uses it- like the loaves and fishes. They went forward on faith- and God did amazing things. The high priest and other priests (vs. 1) lead the people in doing the work. It took everyone. I hope you get the point. To do our building program right- it will take all of us, pulling together- and it is a not an easy task. Paul said we have different gifts but are part of one body. Some of you are sacrificing to be here today because you do not want to hear a word about the building program. You just came to worship God. But let me challenge you a bit- that part of worshipping God is sometimes hearing something that challenges you to think beyond where you are and even who you are. It is hard for a middle school student to think about a children?s program- but as a part of the body of Christ- it is a great thing. When those who don?t have children in their home can think about those with children in their home- I believe the Lord smiles. The Bible says that one of the signs of a real revival in peoples? hearts is when the hearts of the old are turned to the young and the hearts of the young are turned to the old. When we stop playing generation game wars and start looking to do something for God together.
The only people whom we don?t have a record as taking part is found in verse 5 ?The nobles of Tekoa.? Tekoa was a town smaller than Chapin 11 miles from Jerusalem. These aristocrats to this small town felt they were too far above to take part- and they were pointed out. Everyone gave sacrificially- except for the nobles of Tekoa. Now these so called ?nobles? of this town about the size of Chapin- apparently said they were willing to give but they just didn?t feel comfortable doing the work. Look- there is always a reason to not take part. There was no effort to force them. But others in the same town did the work, and evidence is from chapter 4 that they worked really well. I want to tell the new PW leaders and the new elders and deacons- learn a negative lesson from the leaders of Tekoa who didn?t lead by example. Always give yourself to the work of the Lord- serve the people with lead with imagination and love.
III. DIFFERENT PEOPLE BUT ALL HAVING A COMMON CALL AND GOOD- When the leaders lead and the people follow- there is harmony and unity. When people say we can go our own way and ignore the common good– there is division and disunity. No one can move forward by only caring for themselves. The old saying is true, ?United we stand, divided we fall.?
I said this Friday at Sue Madden?s funeral, but I will say it again. Why did Jesus go up to heaven? Why didn?t he just stay on earth and go on. But the traditional teaching of the church is that Jesus reigns through us- His body- His believers= His followers. If we are listening to Him- If we are really following Him and not going our own way- He reigns. We are the body of Christ and we do His work. Some ask why was Sue, such a good person who helped start Christgate and We Care and GOoDWorks taken? But we continue her work. Sue could not do it alone. Nehemiah , as good as he was, could not build the wall by himself. Jesus could not build the kingdom by himself. Sue could not do the Lord?s work by herself. Spreading the work- spreading the vision- is spreading the love. Real leadership enables people to see outside of themselves to love God and neighbor- to care for the least of these- including children and those who have no church to worship in. Jesus was a real leader who gave and held nothing back because He had great faith. The question for us is will we follow?