It bothers me that church culture tends to value the emotional over the practical. Granted, some of this is because I struggle with accepting, identifying, and expressing my emotions, but I still think this is an underlying problem with the culture of the church as a whole.
Church conferences, camps, and retreats are designed to create an emotional experience for the attendees. It’s amazing, when you’re behind the scenes, how you can see the pattern behind these things. While I don’t believe people are trying to manipulate congregants into believing or feeling something, I think we have been programmed for people to follow a certain flow. Then, by the end of the conference, everyone’s on a spiritual and emotional high, so they leave feeling great, which is not a problem. The issue comes later when that experience doesn’t translate into any real or long-lasting change.
What I love about Nehemiah 8 is that the people don’t just have an emotional experience, but they actually followed the Word of God and responded practically to what he’s said. This wasn’t just a revival service, but it was truly a revival.
Yesterday, we talked about the people’s emotional response to truth and today we’re going to dive into the practical response that followed.
“And they found it written in the Law that the Lord had commanded by Moses that the people of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month, and that they should proclaim it and publish it in all their towns and in Jerusalem, “Go out to the hills and bring branches of olive, wild olive, myrtle, palm, and other leafy trees to make booths, as it is written.” So the people went out and brought them and made booths for themselves, each on his roof, and in their courts and in the courts of the house of God, and in the square at the Water Gate and in the square at the Gate of Ephraim.” Nehemiah 8:14-16 (ESV)
These people weren’t playing around. They were passionate about the Lord and were going to obey his word. What they were doing wasn’t easy—it cost them something. They weren’t concerned about the difficulty or the inconvenience; they were willing to go above and beyond in their worship of God.
I fully believe that we all have next steps that God is calling us to take, some of which are uncomfortable.
Lately, God has been impressing on me that I need to draw boundaries with my work. I can’t keep working as many hours as I have been and I have to cut back. This is incredibly difficult for me. I don’t want to have limits, I don’t want to have to step back—I want to be the hero. And I want to be the one who can handle it all. But the truth is that I can’t. If I want to be a healthy human being with healthy relationships with God and others, I have to walk away at the appropriate time. For me, this is the next step I have to take before I can take any of the next steps he’s appointed for me.
Not working 50+ hours a week isn’t a glamorous next step, but it’s an important one. Maybe your next step isn’t a pretty one or something that you’re particularly excited to share with others, but I encourage you to do so. Sit in silence and ask the Holy Spirit what he’s saying to you. Then set your intention to follow through and find one person to share with who will help hold you accountable.
I believe that great things can happen when we take the passion and emotion from the word of God and funnel it into decisive action. Let’s take a step (no matter how small) today!
Do you struggle to take next steps?
What is the Lord saying today?