“And I said to them, ‘Do not let the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot; and while they stand guard, let them shut and bar the doors; and appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, one at his watch station and another in front of his own house.’” Nehemiah 7:3
Once the wall was complete and the gates set, a watch needed to be assigned to the gates and someone needed to be put in charge of the watch. It appears from Nehemiah’s instructions that two watchers were set for each gate, from those that lived near the gate. One was to stand watch at the gate and the other was to stand watch at his home.
In Nehemiah chapter three, where Nehemiah listed the workers and the sections of wall that were assigned for them to rebuild, there were listed nine separate gates. Assuming that the gates named were all the gates, there needed to be nine sets of watchers on duty at any given time. With two watchers per gate that would be eighteen people standing watch.
Many would find the task of standing watch a tiresome and tedious task but if a faithful guard isn’t set the walls may as well have not been built. It would be like installing a security system on your house and not turning it on. Or it would be like getting a watch dog and then chaining it up and muzzling it. If every step necessary for ensuring security isn’t taken then all the steps you have taken are to no avail. Walls and gates aren’t enough on their own; you need a guard.
But security is only one example we could site of the waste and futility of doing things only part way. A sales person needs to sell his or her product. If they only give information about their products features but don’t ever ask people to buy they’re not being a sales person. A mechanic has the job a repairing and maintaining machinery but if all they do is collect and maintain their tools and study about machinery they’re not doing their job.
Christ, as he was preparing to end his earthly ministry and return to heaven, set his disciples over his fledgling church and commanded them to go into all the world and preach the gospel. Additionally, he promised that he would give them the Holy Spirit so that they would have power to be his witnesses as they took his gospel to the world.
Somehow, over the centuries, a lot of church members have gotten the idea that church is all about singing, and praying, and studying, and worshipping and that the call of Jesus to his disciples to go no longer applies to his followers today.
So week after week, sabbath after sabbath, the faithful come to the church and sit, and stand, and pray, and sing, and teach, and preach, and discuss the words of scripture and when it’s all over they go home and that’s all there is.
Friends, Jesus’ call to is church, to us, is that we should “go.” If we don’t go, if we’re not being witnesses, we’re no being the church he called us to be. It could even be asked if we’re part of his church at all.