Let me lead you through the convoluted path of my thinking this morning. I was thinking about our bodies amazing immune system. One aspect of that system is the white blood cells that circulate through our body and that are stored up in certain places. When some type of pathogen enters and attacks our body, there are already white blood cells nearby ready to deal with it. When it is a large threat the body senses the need for help and sends many other white cells that are being held in reserve for just such a situation. There is this remarkable balance between having some very quickly on the scene, but also having a huge army that can be summoned. A truly amazing design.
As I pondered that design my thoughts went to Nehemiah and the people rebuilding the defense system (walls) of Jerusalem under his command. (I told you it was a convoluted thought process!). As the progress moved ahead on the walls, Israel’s enemies became much more aggressive. Nehemiah knew that an attack was imminent so he took precautions. Half of the men stood guard while half worked, and they all carried weapons even while they were working. Each person worked on the walls in their own neighborhood and were ready and determined to defend their homes. There was however, another level of defense. By Nehemiah stood a man with a trumpet. In the event of a major attack he could move quickly to the breach in the wall and sound the trumpet. At the sound of the trumpet men would rush from all over the city to defeat the enemy. Just like our bodies, there was a local quick acting defense, with the potential of a much greater defense being summoned if needed.
That is also how the church is to function. We are each commanded to put on the armor described in Ephesians six to battle our spiritual enemy. We should each carry the word of God in our hearts and minds as we go about our daily routine. Then, when the enemy attacks in whatever form he may take we will be ready to defend ourselves – we should be ready to stand against him always. The reality is though, that sometimes the attack is too much for us to handle by ourselves – that is why we are part of what the Bible calls the body of Christ: the church. when we feel that we are in danger of being overwhelmed or defeated by sin and Satan, when we feel that the pressures of life are too much, we call on each other for help and support.
There are of course two parts to that. There has to be a willingness to swallow our pride and ask for help when we need it. many have been defeated in life because they were afraid to show weakness. The other aspect is that we need to be willing to drop what we are doing, leave our work and our comfort zone (just like the people in Jerusalem had to leave their own neighborhoods) to help each other. Only then is the defense effective.
When the body functions well in harmony within its parts it is strong. When the people of Jerusalem worked under the organization of Nehemiah they were able to withstand attack. When believers walk in the power of the Spirit in unity they function well to glorify God as they overcome the enemy. May we learn from the example God gives us!