Vision always demands a response. You’ll either love it and move forward towards it, be indifferent and stay where you are, or hate it and go the opposite way! One way or another, you’ll respond.
I love the response to Nehemiah’s vision:
“They replied: “Let us start rebuilding”. So they began this good work’. (2:18).
I love those first four words, ‘Let us start rebuilding’. It speaks of a faith response to the vision set out. There’s no committee meeting, no mumbling, no pondering. Just action. So how should we respond to vision?
Ideally, with faith and action. But here, in Nehemiah, there was a filter. Nehemiah goes on to say:
‘I also told them about the gracious hand of my God upon me and what the King had said to me’ (verse 18)
The people had a choice. To believe Nehemiah and discern that God was in it, but also to believe His word, because if the King wasn’t behind it, they’d all be marched off to the gallows together. So there was a choice. The same choice is before us today as we gather around our new vision. Is God’s gracious hand upon this, and is He blessing it? That’s a decision everyone has to come to for themselves. Not everyone will follow our new vision. We have to be big and bold enough to accept that.
But we believe many will. We believe God is in this, that He is calling us to be radical, committed faithful disciples who recognise their brokenness and in turn love other broken people back to life. It means that church might start to look and feel a bit different to how it has in the past; not that the past was wrong, but the past is just that – the past!
We thank God for the men and women who sacrificed and led and went before us so that we can have our day. But we honour them by having our own vision and running with it, just like the next generation will one day run with their own vision which will probably look different to ours. We can’t keep looking back to the good old days; God wants us to walk in the fullness of the new days.
Three things stand out here from Nehemiah 2:18:
THEY. STARTED. REBUILDING.
- THEY - speaks of a togetherness, a unity that Jesus died for; a church so together on mission that honours the heart of God. It speak s of an ownership, a vision that everyone holds to. The church won’t thrive if a few select ‘anointed’ ones do the work. The vision is for all of us to own and carry out.
- STARTED - speaks of an energy, a starting. No more talking about, but a getting on with it. For us, in our season and our context, whilst much of the work of God is ongoing and never stopped, for many of us it’s time to go again!
- REBUILDING - gave the purpose, the why. The walls were broken down, they needed rebuilding. We’re rebuilding; rebuilding our town and community with the love of Jesus, reaching out to people more than we look in to our own needs, and being the church this town actually needs – one that would be missed if we disappeared.
Verse 18 ends with this: ‘So they began this good work’.
It’s time to begin. It’s time to go again. It’s time to be the church that has a vision to follow Jesus and love broken people back to life.