A few years ago a friend of mine was involved in the engineering team which refurbished and rebuilt London Heathrow’s Terminal 2. Joel was an engineer in training. For his company, building Terminal 2 was very important. It was also very important to the them to develop Joel as an engineer. In the long run, it was not just about developing real estate. Developing engieneers was. Getting the tilt walls, beams, or rebar in the right place was not enough; Getting skills, character, and gifts to grow was a major aim of the construction project. Many companies have realised that it is not just about getting a job accomplished or task done. To this reason they have invested in a human resources department. To be truly successful they make investing in people a core value. For Nehemiah, building great walls and yet not having the people of Judah rebuilt would have been pointless.
Neh. 2:17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision.” 18 And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work.
The goal of building the walls of Jerusalem was never about having a building project to boast about. The engineering feat was never principally about their reputation, (“That we way no longer suffer derision”v 17), it was about quality craftsmanship (“good work” v18). Long before they strengthened the walls of Jerusalem, God strengthened their character.
A church is not building. A very helpful definition of church is the: All believers in all times, in all places (Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem). This means the church was about people, is about people, and will always be about people. It means the worshipping community has already been founded, is built and will be built by someone who is timeless. His works will survive the test of time. God’s building project will survive the test of time. God is in the business of people building and soul-formation.
The builder Nehemiah, was a builder of character. He recognised gifts that God’s people had, and encouraged them. He wanted them to fulfill the gifts and callings that God had set for his people. He was the model of a spiritual leader. Spiritual leadership is aimed not so much at directing people as it is at changing people. If we would be the kind of leaders we ought to be, we must make it our aim to develop persons rather than dictate plans. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,” (Heb. 10:24).
The only way to get the people of Judah to be successful was for Nehemiah to begin what they were unable to do. He did not dicatate plans, Nehemiah rolled up his sleaves and said, “Let us rebuild.” So it is with us, Christ Jesus is the author and perfector of our characters. He did not just dictate and thunder commands to build character from Mount Sinai, but dictated and thundered his very love from Mount Calvary. He has set and appointed great tasks for us to do for his glory. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Eph. 2:10
Today Let us rebuild. Partner with God’s character forming grace and be the glorious, rebuilt ruin that he has purposed you to be.