Reading through the book of Nehemiah I came across one of those chapters easily skimmed through. It’s chapter 3 that has a list of names of people who are rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. It lists the names and their responsibilities in the reconstruction effort.
It’s not really a fascinating chapter until you notice a few words that become repetitious; “next to them” and “after him.” Here is a list of people recognized by name, or family, or hometown, or tribe. After each identifier is named the section of the wall, or work, for which each is responsible.
The fascinating part is that each group is connected to the next group by either the phrase “next to them,” or after him.”
This is a great picture of the people of God. Each given different and specific ministries; with various gifts, talents and abilities to accomplish the tasks. But the picture is never about individuals, it is about the body. We are standing next to each other. We are side by side. We are connected. We form an unbroken chain of love, joy, peace, patience kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Church is where we find community; being ‘next to’ and ‘after’. The unbroken chain is not arm in arm, but rather hearts welded together in the love and unity of the Father who planned it and the Son who purchased it. I love being next to you.
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