It seems obvious that most of us believe our world today is exceedingly far from perfect. One only has to look on social media, watch the news, listen to political candidates, or peruse a public opinion poll to understand that many believe the world is on the wrong track (if it’s on any track at all). While I tend to be optimistic, I am also painfully aware of the problems faced throughout our world. The question, for me, is not whether the world is in a great place (it’s not), but what we as Christians can do about it. For many of us, our chief responses seem to be to complain and place the blame on others. I would, however, argue that God desires more than complaining. God desires for us to take a role, however big or small, in improving the world.
The Book of Nehemiah contains focuses on confronting a major obstacle (the lack of walls around Jerusalem and its eminent invasion) in a faithful and proactive way. The book opens with God calling Nehemiah, the cupbearer of a distant King, to leave the palace and to lead the rebuilding efforts. Take a look at Nehemiah’s response to God’s call, and how God desires more than complaining.
As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’ Nehemiah 1:4-9
Notice a few things here. First, that Nehemiah doesn’t simply complain or pass the blame to others. He doesn’t blame opposing armies, ineffective politicians, the unrighteous, or lazy workers. Instead, he owns the sins of his people and himself. He repents in the name of the people, while also admitting his own unrighteousness. Do we do this amidst the problems of today? Are we repenting of our own sins and praying for those around us to reign in their own sins? See, God desires more than just complaining. He desires us to confess our sins, to pray for others, and to be part of the solution. So, my question today is, how are you responding to the problems you see everyday? Our you owning your own faults, praying for others, and seeking to be part of God’s solution?