Friday, July 20, 2012

courage to counter the culture

Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak arose and began to rebuild the house of God that is in Jerusalem, and the prophets of God were with them, supporting them.
Ezra 5:2

Courage rose up when the Word of God confronted the temple-rebuilding generation. Technically, these leaders were disobeying the law of the land by engaging in the rebuilding project at the temple site. But they were in possession of two greater edicts than the one that stopped the work. The first one came from Cyrus commissioning them by royal command to rebuild the temple. But the greatest edict came from God. The prophets encouraged the leaders to continue this work. Obedience to God outweighed the current political pressure.

This was a moment of leadership action. It came bravely from a sense of moral duty. It was obedience to God instead of the king. And it was the stand up moment for the exiles who returned to rebuild the temple. From this point on their faith, joined with courage, led to definitive and visible action. And it was exactly what God wanted them to do.

There are some stirring themes here about spiritual motivation. We have faith to trust God. It combines with courage that confronts the culture. It leads to action that is visible. The culture is happy when God's people have a "private" faith that stays invisible in our hearts. But when we go public with it and begin to build and take visible action that counters the cultural norms, we get noticed as we make a difference.

And that is exactly what happened in this context. The opposition took down names and fired off a letter to king Darius asking the Babylonian bureaucracy to render a final decision on this matter. The courage, faith, determination, and obedience of the Jews did not end the opposition, it actually increased it, but they worked on despite this! And this was exactly what needed to happen.

No comments: