The Lament of the Saints
Leaders need to be strong, they need to have a strong relationship with God in both the study of his word and in their prayer life. Any leader that feels they can go it alone without divine aid from above are sure to fail.
Why is this so necessary? Because the saints Have long memories and are short of foresight.
I once interviewed for the job of being an assistant pastor in a large district. Primarily I would have been the pastor of a small congregation that was dying. During the interview process, I started asking a series of questions to determine how ready they were for see their church grow. They talked a good talk on how they wanted to see their church grow but when getting down to the nitty gritty, they said, we would like to be like the congregation was when: and they listed two pastors that had been there 30 or more years ago when the members were young and the church had also operated a school.
I asked them, “so, what were you as a congregation doing then that you are not doing now?” Their answer shocked me and yet explained a lot about why the church was in the condition it was. When and they named the two pastors names, where here the pastor did this and this and this and this.” The list of what the pastor was doing went on and on and on.
My response to their statement what to ask them a question. “I hear what you are saying, you are saying you would like to see your church grow and you are convinced that with the right pastor this could once again happen. Am I correct in what I hear?” They answered yes that is correct.
I continued then by saying: “Many of the items you listed that this church had done in the past could be done again and would result is some success. But you realize that with success, the church will begin to change, new people will come and they will develop into the next generation of leaders in this church.” I continued: “Furthermore, you realize, it cannot be just the pastor that does all the work you have outlined, it takes commitment from all you to be willing to participate in the work. For this church to begin to grow, we all have to love each other and love the person coming through the door even more.”
This seemed to surprise them, they had never thought about this before and I could see the conflict begin to arise on their faces. That would mean that they would have to be willing to accept and love those that were different than they were and that tensions that had filled the church for years would have to be put away, washed away. They could no longer kick the can down the street. They had to deal with the situation head on and in their case they had kicked several cans down the street and each of them were now in front of them and they had to be willing to deal with them, not later, but now.
Now that work on the temple had begun, and there was beginning to be kingdom growth, the saints looked at what was happening in the present and started to compare it to the past. The truth is, we can learn from the successes and failures of the past, but that doesn’t mean the present or the future will look, act or feel as it did in the past. In fact, if God is truly leading and the saints are willing to follow, allowing the lessons learned, both good and bad, to be used as tools to make us as a people better and more effective then we can truly begin to grow. It is not about trying to mold the future to look like the past, but using the past to help build an even better future.
For the remnant of Israel that had been present at the destruction of the temple, to now see this new temple being built, a temple that seemed far less glorious than the first, brought disappointment to their hearts and tears to their eyes.
Haggai chapter 2 verse 4 says the following: “Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel, says the LORD; ‘and be strong, Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest; and be strong, all you people of the land,’ says the LORD, ‘and work; for I am with you,’ says the LORD of hosts. According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!’ For thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to The Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the LORD of hosts. The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘And in this place, I will give peace says the LORD of hosts’” (Haggai 2:4-9).
Although the present may not seem to have the glory of the past, in the time of Zerubbabel, this temple being rebuilt would one day be visited by the greatest teacher to ever walk this earth, and that teacher was none other than Jesus Christ, who would fill the temple with far greater glory then Solomon and his temple ever had.
So it is today, in just a little while, the church here on earth, though it may not seem to have the glory of the past, will one day have far greater glory than ever before, because on clouds of glory will come that same Jesus to bring his saints, his earth children home with him to dwell with him forever and ever. Oh, what a glorious day that will be!