Christopher B. Harbin
In so many ways, life is a partnership. We partner in ways we don't think about, as well as those ways in which it is a constant norm. We can easily see work partners cooperating in a business enterprise. We can look upon marriage with a division of responsibilities as a partnership. We watch sports teams participate together to accomplish a common objective. What we many not really consider is just how much the church itself is a partnership, how the community we seek to grow and establish is a partnership that requires a higher level of cooperation among its membership than we are wont to see and recognize.
Nehemiah's people were embarked on an monumental, arduous task. They were giving of their time, their talents, their effort, and their sweat to accomplish a joint project that would be of benefit to the entire society in and around Jerusalem. Priests, goldsmiths, merchants, and day laborers worked hand in hand beside farmers and weavers to rebuild Jerusalem's walls to provide security for the entire society. The task required that all participate, for it was beyond the capacity of any one individual or group. At the same time, their partnership in the process was not complete. While many hands were involved in the process, not everyone was equally committed to the larger success of the community as a whole. They were focused instead on their own ambitions, in the process undermining the larger task.
While the whole of the community was involved in the reconstruction of Jerusalem's walls, the whole of the community did not have the economic resources available to give of their time. By spending their days on building the Jerusalem wall, many were running out of the basic necessities of life. They needed food. Others were taking advantage of their need, to the point of taking their houses and lands as collateral for loans to see them through. They were being forced to sell their children as slaves ...
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