God's Blessing on Centennial

When our enemies heard that it was known to us and that God had frustrated their plan, we all returned to the wall, each to his work.  From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. And the leaders stood behind the whole house of Judah.
— Nehemiah 4:15, 16
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.
— Philippians 1:27

Four things came together to form this Postscripts article: two sermons and two situations. The first sermon was preached at General Synod in the beginning week of this month. The Gospel was proclaimed by a fellow seminary grad of mine from the Scripture of Nehemiah 4, where the returned Jewish exiles were rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. The other sermon was preached by myself just this last Sunday. The situations that make up the other half of this story are sad ones. Two separate ministers that I know are struggling with internal strife within their respective works. Christians seeking to frustrate other Christians. As I have pondered and prayed about these situations, the texts above stuck in my mind. Nehemiah’s people who returned to the wall were protecting each other. Paul’s exhortation to the Philippian Church is to have a unity about them—striving side by side.

The two situations revealed to me a break in these Scripture principles. Rather than witnessing God’s people protecting each other while building the wall, it’s as if I saw them attacking one another. Rather than a striving side by side, there was a striving to divide. How sad, frustrating, and debilitating!

Yet even as I continue to pray for those difficult situations, I see at Centennial a great blessing from God. We are by no means perfect. I make mistakes daily. We all need to grow. But in the midst of these things, I do not sense deep divisiveness as in those situations. Rather, I sense family love. I sense the desire to grow together. I sense God’s blessings on Centennial! Let us not squander the blessings God has given us here at Centennial, for others yearn for that which we have. My prayer is this: that we would continue to grow in humility, unity, and active love. Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Yours affectionately,

Jeremiah Thomas