Sitting in Church the other Sunday I sat under a preacher who taught us from the book of Nehemiah. He had some interesting points, but one of the things we read in the passage really hit home with me, and I quickly wrote down some notes in order to write this blog. First, let me give the passage below from Nehemiah chapter three:
1 Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests, and they builded the sheep gate; they sanctified it, and set up the doors of it; even unto the tower of Meah they sanctified it, unto the tower of Hananeel.
2 And next unto him builded the men of Jericho. And next to them builded Zaccur the son of Imri.
3 But the fish gate did the sons of Hassenaah build, who also laid the beams thereof, and set up the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof.
4 And next unto them repaired Meremoth the son of Urijah, the son of Koz. And next unto them repaired Meshullam the son of Berechiah, the son of Meshezabeel. And next unto them repaired Zadok the son of Baana.
5 And next unto them the Tekoites repaired; but their nobles put not their necks to the work of their Lord.
In this passage we find the people of Israel returning from captivity to work together to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. Now, Israel is not the church, nor vice versa. But we can spiritually apply this passage to the church today, and make some comparisons. The priests would be a type of modern day "Pastors," while the Israelite people rebuilding the wall would be a type of the "church congregation." And notice that they are all working together in harmony. That is all of them but those in verse 5, who, "put not their necks to the work of their Lord." At first I didn't know what this meant. I had to think about it. Then I figured it out. These "nobles" not only didn't do any work, but they also wouldn't even TURN THEIR HEADS to even look at the work. They just sat there on their rear ends, probably eating bon-bons, and drinking mint juleps! And they weren't interested in doing anything for God!
They were completely happy in their position of laziness and didn't care at all about the work of Lord. So much so, that they didn't even want to LOOK at the work of the Lord. They wanted others to do it all, while they themselves did nothing but enjoy the fruit of the labors of others.
Now, let's spiritually apply this literal, historical passage to the church today. Are there those in the church today who like the "nobility" of old who do the same? Do they, like most nobles, think they are more important than others, and for this reason, they don't need to get their hands dirty?
Sadly, there are such people in our churches today. They are usually that "upiddy, up" crowd in the church who's families for years have been in the church, and who think that because their daddy or granddaddy built the church, that they are more important to the church than anyone else (cause if it wasn't for their forefathers, there would be any church at all).
What's worse is when the Pastor caters to them, and esteems them higher than the "newer members," which elevates these "nobles" even more in their pride, which makes them look even more important to the church than anyone else.
But this is something that God is very much against. Revelation 2:6 tells us:
"But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate."
What were the deeds of the Nicolaitans? It was the practice of making two classes of Christians: those who were the most important and those who are looked upon as less important. The word Nicolaity is a compound word consisting of two words: Nico and Laity.
Nico or Nike was the God of "rights" of the people. He taught that certain people deserved some things while others didn't. And laity has to do with those people who are under others. It is from this term with get the word "laymen," or those who are not in a role of church leadership, and who are rather average church members.
This is nothing short of "class warfare" within the church house. For there are not two classes of Christians. There is only one. But in our age we see a great division among Church people. Especially with the teaching of "laymen" vs. "church workers." You know the teaching, in which certain people in the church are looked upon as "more important" than others, and those who don't do anything are only labelled as "laymen."
These then are the "nobility" in the church, who often feel that since they are so important, that they don't have to do anything, rather they should pass it on to others to do the work themselves. Pastors and deacons often fall into this category, as they demand worship from the congregation, but they themselves do nothing but count the offerings and enjoy the benefits of their position. They have converted themselves into the new "nobles."
I've seen it, and I'm sure you have too, that there always seems to be a "clique" in the church of those "rich" people or "popular" folks who run the church and hold much influence over the Pastor. Things always go their way, as they always win the vote to do things that they want done, (like what color the curtains and pews will be, like what types of festivals the church will celebrate, what kind of food people must bring for their fellowships, etc.)
This are the modern "nobility" who sway the actions of the Pastor and who though they themselves do nothing, they always want their names on the plaques on the walls because they give more to the church than anyone else.
But is this right? It's easy to spot such people, for they usually only brag upon themselves and/or on their church building, rather than on the Lord Jesus Christ. They put on a front that they are "noble" in character and lifestyle, but they are the ones who get the most angry when things don't go their way! And when they end up leaving a church during a church split, they are usually the ones who lead others away with them. Is this right?
As I read through Nehemiah, I couldn't help but chuckle. It appears the same type of people that were found in the congregation in Israel are found still today in our Churches. These are those who pass themselves off as "noble" people, who think they are too good to "turn their necks" to toil in the things of the Lord, especially when their desire is rather to "delegate" that job to others. Rather than work themselves, they enjoy the church pews, the church house, the fellowship, but they won't ever pass out a tract, visit other church members, witness to the lost, etc. They let others do it all, while they enjoy the benefits.
Like one old country preacher said of such people years ago, "I think the problem with a lot of church members is they caught a disease. It's called 'Buttroot!' Yeah, they don't do anything but sit on the church pew and because they've sat there so long, their BUTT done ROOTed to the pew. They don't do anything but sit there, and they think if it wasn't for them, the church wouldn't be there!"
There's your "Christian nobility." Just like those nobles of old in the time of Nehemiah, they sat there and did nothing while everyone else did the work. Maybe we should call it "Neckroot disease." For they, like the Israelite nobility, can't seem to even "turn their necks" to see the great need in the world today, especially for the lost world to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.