I hope you have been keeping up with the reading. Sorry for the delay, but we'll get to several chapters this week. In the last chapter, we see that the people are each working on their portion of the wall. They are getting the work done that was specifically assigned to them.
However, in chapter 4, we run into Sanballat and Tobias again. In the very first verse, we read, "Now it came about that when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall he became furious and very angry and mocked the Jews." He not only mocked the Jews, but he mocked them in front of others. He tells them how useless their efforts will be, how impossible the task. Tobias, hearing him, joins in and makes fun of the work itself, saying it is so feeble, if a fox walked on it (known for being light on their feet) the whole thing would fall down.
Have you ever been doing what you feel God has called you to do, only to have someone or several someones start making fun of you? If you are doing what God has called you to do, you can expect opposition. There is a theory floating around in Christian circles that if you are just doing God's will everything will be wonderful. Personally, I think people have been watching too much Disney.
Several years ago, I was heavily involved in women's ministries at my church. For some reason, I could never figure out, there were a couple women that absolutely despised me. I went to them numerous times trying to make things right, and things would be okay for a few weeks. But then there would be another meeting, and I would find myself under attack again. I'd leave those meetings feeling like if words were arrows, I'd be bleeding all over the floor.
It seemed the more I pushed to do what I felt God calling me to do, the more opposition I got. I'd like to say I pushed through but I was under the mistaken impression that if I was doing what God wanted me to do it would be easy and I wouldn't meet opposition and I certainly wouldn't have other Christian women at my throat. I quit. I had a convenient excuse so I just quit the field rather than fight. After all, that seemed the more "Christian" thing to do.
When you look at what happens to the workers in Nehemiah, you can see a progression in their attacks. At first it is verbal - they try to discourage the people working, convince them that what they are doing is useless and then making them doubt their competency as builders. When the people continue working, they gather others to them and attack them physically. After prayer, Nehemiah sets up a system of one worker with one defender. People were laying bricks with their sword in their hand.
Nehemiah didn't quit the fight. He didn't tell all the wall builders, "Now let's be nice or send the enemy some muffins." He called them on it. He prayed that God would not even forgive them for demoralizing the workers like they were doing.
I think so many times, in Christian circles, we want to do the loving thing because Jesus is love, right? But the problem is our view of the loving thing is warped. We want to be "nice" instead of loving. Loving means caring enough about someone to step outside our comfort zone to have tough conversations.
If I had the courage of my convictions, instead of continually apologizing to those women, I would have confronted them on their behavior. I would have followed the Matthew 13 protocol of going to them one on one and then bringing in someone else if things didn't change. I would have loved them enough to tell them the truth.
In Scripture it says "the truth will set you free" and true love gets rid of fear. Don't get me wrong - we are called to forgive and to pray for those who hate us and bless those that curse us. I just think that if you look at Jesus' example, love isn't always warm and fuzzy. Sometimes, it's blunt and confrontational.
The other thing we need to remember is that it's okay to work with your sword in your hand. Obviously, in our day and age, we aren't going to be walking around with a real sword, BUT in the New Testament, we are told about a sword - God's Word. When we know truth, we can have the confidence to speak truth in love.
It's really no wonder that church pews have so few men in them. We have made Christianity into something sort of wimpy and watered down. We've forgotten that the battle truly is the Lord's and we are called to be His warriors.
~ Blessings, Bronte