Monday, July 10, 2017

"Leaders Stand for Something"

Nehemiah 13.7-9 NLT

“When I arrived back in Jerusalem, I learned about Eliashib's evil deed in providing Tobiah with a room in the courtyards of the Temple of God. 

I became very upset and threw all of Tobiah's belongings out of the room. 

Then I demanded that the rooms be purified, and I brought back the articles for God's Temple,…”

Nehemiah was a leader. He stood for something and took appropriate action. He was passionate, even angry. By his own admission:


“I became very upset and threw all of Tobiahbelongings out of the room.”

Nehemiah wasn’t nice. Unlike most politicians, Governor Nehemiah did care about being perceived as polite or relevant. His faith mattered enough to take a take a chance and make a stand. Compare the actions of Nehemiah with one current, popular understanding of faith by a noted Unitarian minister:

Universalists believe that every human being needs to be absolutely free to follow his or her own conscience. We’re known as the uncommon denomination because we are a free faith. There is nothing that you have to believe. You don’t have to sign on the dotted line to believe a specific thing. But your faith is so important that you are required to pursue your own beliefs.”[1]

According to Universalists, “there is nothing you have to believe,” yet somehow “your faith is so important that you are required to pursue your own beliefs.” So, if I choose to believe nothing I am “required to pursue” nothing because of how “so important” my faith in nothing really is. The concept is confusing and uninspiring. I’d rather believe in something than nothing. 

Nehemiah put his faith “on the dotted line to believe a specific thing.” He actually believed the Temple of God should remain undefiled. It was not OK with Nehemiah that the pagan leader Tobiah should be allowed a room in God’s house. Was Eliashib “absolutely free to follow his own conscience” and, as a Temple priest, authorized to offer a room in the Temple to anyone he wanted? Not according to the governor. When Nehemiah found out he “became very upset and threw all of Tobiah’s belongings out of the room.” Nehemiah made no popularity points with Eliashib or Tobiah and their friends. Nevertheless, Nehemiah was a leader, and he stood for something.

Leaders necessarily risk offending those who disagree. That’s the price you pay for having an opinion and sharing it.

Nearly two millennia ago a great leader bravely claimed to be “the way, and the truth, and the life.” He was audacious enough to announce, “No one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14.6). He stood for and required something of the people who bore His name:

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, 
he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me”.
Mark 8.34 NASU

Jesus Christ was and remains to be a leader worth believing in, following, and taking a stand for.
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[1] Quotation from the article “Unitarians’ faith (or not) on view”, by writer Nancy Haught, The Oregonian, June 23, 2007.

2 comments:

Nitewrit said...

"There is nothing that you have to believe. You don’t have to sign on the dotted line to believe a specific thing. But your faith is so important that you are required to pursue your own beliefs."

Which is akin to no belief at all except "do your own thing" and "if it feels good do it". Thiis is not a belief, it's an excuse.

Dave Scriven said...

That's what I think also, Nitewrit. Thanks for sharing. Dave