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Community Presence

John 13:1-17 provides us with an incredible picture of community among believers in my opinion. Admittedly, the word community is not used, but I see deep levels of it in so many different ways.


It is also fitting that, as I sit and write this, our church is finishing our Empower week; a week full of community service projects, worship & fun. This weeks always deepens my appreciation of the hearts of people who both serve and receive during an intentional time of service. It also challenges my heart in realizing how much more I need to be serving the other 51 weeks during the year.





My mind began to recall the story of Nehemiah this morning, How the spirit of God thrives in community and fellowship. It is such a great force that compels the presence of God and the workings of His favor, victory, and grace. This is what is prevalent in the story of Nehemiah.


Nehemiah is a story of restoration. Besides restoration, other biblical elements are present in Nehemiah. There is love and compassion for one’s kindred, faith, courage, discernment, strategy, discipline, and commitment to rebuilding the wall. There is something about the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, the story, the idea, the goal, the determination, the strength, the manifestation, and the community.


In the book of Nehemiah, Nehemiah, a cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, was moved by the great exile, the destruction of the walls of Jerusalem and the displacement of the Jews. After getting permission from the King, he visited Jerusalem to inspect the damage done and plan how to rebuild the walls. A wall which represented the might of the Jews.


He asked for help to rebuild the walls and, gathered the Jewish people to begin his restoration plan. Nehemiah had opposition that made his plan difficult. But external difficulty and turbulence are not elements strong enough against the power of community.


People plotted, caused trouble, spread rumor's, and attempted to murder him. All of which failed. Within the community, internal problems arose. They began in the form of exploitation of the poor by the rich and a shortage of resources and personnel. But in a community within which God dwells, internal problems are resolved by His spirit. In 52 days, Nehemiah and his community rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. No matter the destruction that awaits us, brick by brick- it can be restored.


When you read Nehemiah, you are met with a very realistic and human story of the complexities of community life. It is not easy to restore things or ourselves. External oppositions will arise, and internal conflicts will begin. But Nehemiah introduces us to a version of God that is revealed through his community - God, the restorer.


A God that sifts through conflicts and problems, joining us in the efforts of our restoration. With Nehemiah, our role in our personal restoration story becomes very clear, and it becomes very apparent how much we need the support of others. Nehemiah could not rebuild that wall by himself. Neither could those charged with prayer, pray alone nor the builders build alone, nor the watchers watch alone. All of them were body parts of the whole, working together to fulfil the grand purpose.


Think about the verse in Ephesians 4:16, “For his body has been formed in his image and is closely joined together and constantly connected as one. and every member has been given divine gifts to contribute to the growth of all; and as these gifts operate effectively throughout the whole body, we are built up and made perfect in love”.


Nehemiah’s story is filled with different kinds of people, builders, singers, painters, artists, watchmen, and soldiers - all different body parts, working together, allowing the power of God to fully manifest. Community.


Community births courage. It brings about belonging, and it is this sense of belonging that births courage. Nehemiah was not scared to face those who opposed the wall’s rebuilding. He was not threatened by their plots, moved by the false prophets, or dismayed by the internal conflicts that arose. He prayed for God’s protection and used his community to protect the wall.


In, Nehemiah 4:16–17, he writes “From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah, who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other”. What a well-rounded story.


When we come together in God’s name, God is present in our midst. God IS community and fellowship. In community, we become a force, a power, and everything is within our reach. So, in our community, let us open our arms wide for the spirit of God to flourish. Let the face of God that used to be so concealed when it was just Moses, be so revealed when it is you and me. I look forward to the version of God our community reveals.

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