Men Talking

In 1985, an interviewer asked the question, “What makes the church different than the world?” you would hear a multitude of responses. Many of these responses talked about the care of the church, the compassions of the members, and the character of their lives. These are wonderful attributes that should be a ready and vibrant testimony to bring change into a world that needs hope. However in recent years, if you were to ask someone on the streets the same questions, the response is shockingly short. Multitudes has expressed, “There is nothing different. They live like we do.”

With every fractures family and marriage, every indictment and conviction, every explosion and split, the church of Jesus Christ continues to lose its saltiness of preservation while the world continue to spoil under the heat of adversary. What truly makes us different from the world? Is it our dress, our convictions, our buildings, our politics? Nope. There is only one thing that make us different from the world- CHRIST. This may seem like a simple answer yet when you begin to unpack it through the study of the love of Christ, the life of Christ, and the leading of Christ, the simple answer has grown into a lifelong endeavor. That is exactly how it is supposed to be- lifelong and not Sunday worship hour long.

Our current plight of repairing the testimony of Christianity is not only here in the present, it was also experienced in Nehemiah’s day. Through the month of May, we will begin to walk with this “Wall Building Project Officer” from God as he now turns his focus on the wrongs within the walls. In this great chapter of confrontation, he rebukes the nobles and leaders for their oppression against each other. Earlier, the tribes put their money together to buy their brothers and sisters out of the hands of the foreigners. They turned around, however, and sold each other into the hands of their countrymen to become slaves. The picture of hypocrisy was painted and Nehemiah called it what it was-UGLY! After being exposed, the children of Israel did not ignore the accusation but restored everything taken and required nothing in return. As Nehemiah help to defend the wall from the enemy on the outside in chapter 4, he defended the walls of the people of God in chapter 5 by dealing with the rust or ruin on the inside. Let me close with this illustration.

After F.E. Marsh preached on this subject, a young man came to him and said, “Pastor, you have put me in a bad fix. I’ve stolen from my employer, and I’m ashamed to tell him about it. You see, I’m a boat builder, and the man I work for is an unbeliever. I have often talked to him about Christ, but he only laughs at me. In my work, expensive copper nails are used because they won’t rust in water. I’ve been taking some of them home for a boat I am building in my backyard. I’m afraid if I tell my boss what I’ve done and offer to pay for them, he’ll think I’m a hypocrite, and I’ll never be able to reach him for Christ. Yet, my conscience is bothered.” Later when the man saw the preacher again, he exclaimed, “Pastor, I’ve settled that matter and I’m so relieved.”   “What happened when you told your boss?” asked the minister. “Oh, he looked at me intently and said, ‘George, I’ve always thought you were a hypocrite, but now I’m not so sure. Maybe there’s something to your Christianity after all. Any religion that makes a man admit he’s been stealing a few copper nails and offer to settle for them must be worth having.'” 

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