Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building. They hired counselors to work against them and frustrate their plans during the entire reign of Cyrus king of Persia and down to the reign of Darius king of Persia. – Ezra 4:4-5 (NIV)
It is hard to be a good neighbor when your neighbor hates you and wants to see you fail. It is difficult to stay in hostile territory, especially when you have no other friendly place to go. This has been the problem of God’s people throughout their history; firstIsraeland now the body of Christ. We are unwanted by the world. We stand opposed to the humanized view of our place in the cosmos and preach a gospel that rejects the relativism of the world’s morality. Some have responded to this dilemma by becoming isolated communities, others have bought into a more militant approach, but either one gets us stuck without any ability to handle the other.
Israelwas isolated, but not because they chose to be. They were isolated because the chose to follow God and the nations around them decided that wasn’t going to go well for them. When isolation didn’t work, the nations became combative. What is interesting is thatIsraelwas prepared for either situation as long as they were obeying God and doing the work He wanted them to be about. WhenIsraelwas successful, it was because they were keeping in line with what God wanted for them.
This is a hard lesson to learn, but we cannot live our lives reacting to the world. We have to live our lives in obedience to God and trust that He will take us where we need to go, whether that is into isolation or confrontation. We don’t need to run away from a fight or run into it, we just need to follow the one who is worth fighting for and shelters those He calls His own. Teaching our children to be peacemakers and warriors for God at the same time is challenging, but possible if we keep them focused on seeking the heart of God.
Lord, help me live a life that is balanced by Your will and not imbalanced by my emotions and passions. Teach me to know when to fight for Your purposes and when to sow peace. Grant my children the hearts and minds to pursue You above all else. Amen.