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Nehemiah’s Enemies Today

One temptation in the pastorate is to become too concerned in the institutional life around you- church programs, denominational positions, etc. Of course we need to interact with the broader world but we must beware of the entanglements and allurements of position and prestige. It is too easy to get to the point where we are more loyal to maintaining our programs or institutions than we are to strictly obeying the Bible. I hear this when people dismiss calls for simple Bible obedience as idealistic, impractical, or just too problematic in s current situation. This quote from Packer concerning those who opposed Nehemiah and their counterparts today was helpful to me.

“Sometimes in the half-secular world of mainline denomonational life as it is today, Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem reappear. They take the form of bureaucrats who see any version of Christianity that challenges the status quo as subversive: unnecessary, unwise, and destructive rather than constructive in its thrust. In local churches and parachurch bodies, any leader who values order above ardour and routine above revival, and who pours cold water on visionaries as soon as they propose that something be done, risks becoming a new Sanballat or Tobiah. The loyalty of such people, whereby they think they serve God, is given to Christian institutions rather than to biblical truth, and they have no idea that in this they become Satan’s tools for the snuffing out of spiritual life; nor do they ever understand why Christians who have learned their faith and calling from the Bible find it necessary to fight them. The pride reflected in their confidence that wisdom is with them, and that they have a Christian duty to uphold the status quo against Bible-based reformers, makes the Sanballats and Tobiahs of our time into figures who are pathetic and tragic at the same time. But that does not in any way reduce our obligation to stand against them when they oppose obedience to God’s truth. Nehemiah is our model here, a very relevant model for our time.”

J. I. Packer, A Passion For Faithfulness: Wisdom from the Book of Nehemiah, 98.

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