“Though we are slaves, our God has not forsaken us in our bondage. He has shown us kindness in the sight of the kings of Persia: He has granted us new life to rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins, and He has given us a wall of protection in Judah and Jerusalem.”
Do you struggle with “nice” disease?
Symptoms including faking smiles, holding everything in, and remaining pleasant in every situation. If you do, you may worry the façade is cracking and you have to work fast to shore up the breach before it’s too late – before something un-nice spills out and the real you comes into the light. Boy, I do.
This disease affects your faith, too. The consequences of an unauthentic faith plagued the children of Israel. After decades of captivity in a pagan land, King Cyrus of Persia declared they could return home. After a long journey, they rebuit the temple and the worship ceremonies began. God worked mightily to return them to their homeland after the exile. What a miracle. Everything seemed great, right?
But Ezra knew his people; he knew that the years away from Jerusalem had taken a toll on their relationship with God. As one theologian put it, “Worship was restored but theocracy was not.” They were going through the motions, but the authentic heart of worship was missing. In order to truly be God’s people again they would need to rebuild the wall around the temple to protect them from the hostile people in the land. In the same way, we must build a wall to protect ourselves as we go out into an often dangerous world to share our faith with others – a line in the sand that says our lives belong to Him alone.
So how can we get past a façade faith to begin to build something more authentic that lasts? We build one stone at a time. One fewer hit of the snooze button tomorrow giving you time to meet with Him first thing. One memory verse card in your pocket reminding you to use His word daily. One minute each night to jot down those times when He gave you the strength to get through the day’s trials.
Stay in community; get to church on time; make your Growth Group a priority. God will grow your faith as you begin to build upon each stone. Remember: the heavier the stone, the stronger the line of defense.
Be real and shine brightly today! Build an authentic faith that is true to God and thus true to others. Let’s sing out loud with Martin Luther: a mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing!
Rachel Hocking has been attending the Journey Church since the fall of 2008. A music major in college, she is currently the Office Manager for the MET Orchestra. She is thrilled to be leading a growth group reaching out to the homeless and the hungry with The Relief Bus – “These things we do, that others may live!”