The Gathering, the church I attend in Muncie, began its first series of the year yesterday. As I walked into the sanctuary, I immediately noticed something was different about the room. Chalk boards lined the whole length and width of the left wall.
“Before I die, I want to …,” the black slates read, over and over again in rows.
One person had taken chalk to the board and wrote in “… change the world,” after the repeated phrase.
Waiting on the World to Change
Starting in Nehemiah 1, our pastor, Joshua, started to paint a picture of the character and faith of Nehemiah, cupbearer to the king. After hearing that the people of Israel have been scattered, and the walls of Jerusalem have been broken down and burned with fire, Nehemiah weeps.
But he doesn’t just stop there. He prays with devotion for those who are hurting or have turned away; he then confesses on behalf of all of Israel (v. 6-7).
Then, starting in verse 8, he prays for grace and restoration. “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, 9 but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name’” (NIV).
Nehemiah saw what was happening in his world and did something about it. Although he lived in a much different time, when news could take as much as 45 days to get from one city to the next, he didn’t turn away from the information. He ran toward it.
I wonder how a man like Nehemiah would feel in today’s world of infinite information. Would he pay attention, or would he, like so many of us do, turn away?
We live in a time where information is a click away. Yet we get up in the morning, Google the forecast, check out how our favorite team did last night and drive to work without thinking twice about what is happening on a international, or even national, scale.
With the advent of Twitter, you could argue that you are an aware and informed individual, because you stay up-to-date with tweets. But then again, you chose who you follow on Twitter — it’s still selective and can leave us in the dark. We tell ourselves we know enough, but we are only pretending.
We’ve chosen ignorance because it’s convenient for us.
“We like to pretend, don’t we?” Joshua said in his sermon. “We pretend that everything is fine. But start to look around, and the way you see things will be different.”
It’s not convenient to feel broken, to weep for the world, but it’s necessary.
We need to open our hearts and see God at work in our world; we need to ask ourselves the questions, “What’s going on?” Then, like Nehemiah, we need to pray for all of the suffering, injustice, inequality, desperation and despair that’s out there. Pray for God’s will to be done and for him to be glorified.
Nothing is going to change until we open our eyes, and let God light the fire within. Failure to do so will only result in a continued state of (like the famous John Mayer song points to) waiting on the world to change.