Is Your Community Involvement Attracting "Haters" (i.e., Negativity)?
Community involvement, in this devotional, is a reference to Christians actively helping to improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods and surroundings.
In Nehemiah 4:7-14, the people of God had made progress on rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem. Sanballat and others rose up with negative comments. And even among the people of God there were negative comments.
It used to be a popular expression among young people ("young people" change so quickly, especially in the eyes of "old people" - smile) in describing those who were talking negatively about them to say that the negative commentators were "hating" on them.
In spite of the negative comments or "hating" in our text, Nehemiah urged the people to prayerfully keep on working.
When we make progress in doing what God is calling us to do, we should not be surprised when negativity comes from those around us and sometimes even out of our own mouths. We should not be surprised when the "haters" come.
However, if we continue to prayerfully work towards God’s calling on our lives, we can make it. The thesis (i.e., message in a sentence) of this series of devotionals, "When the 'Haters' Come," is that we should counter negativity with prayerful work.
In this devotional, let's focus on the matter of your community involvement. Just as the Jews of our text were rebuilding the walls around their city, believers ought to be working together to rebuild their lives, the lives of their families, and their communities.
As members of our community and ultimately our world, God wants us to be the light of the world and salt of the earth (see Mt. 5:13-16).
Thus, we should be studying and preparing for the voting issues that come our way every year. This means learning about the candidates' track records, character, and promises.
This means being a part of groups that hold elected officials accountable for what they said they would do and what is in the best interest of the community.
Organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and others have done and are doing marvelous work in this area.
However, there is a tremendous need for more help. The same could be said for block clubs, neighborhood associations, labor unions, political parties, and even for elected offices.
All it takes for evil to become and remain normative is for people of God to simply pray and worship in the church buildings, instead of making positive impacts in their communities, as the light of the world and salt of the earth.
So many young people are receiving an inadequate public education. So many people have no health insurance. So many Black men are locked up in jail. So many Black women are being HIV positive.
So many people are living in or uncomfortably close to poverty. All of these things should cause a great urgency in us to make progress in rebuilding our communities.
Are you making enough progress in carrying out God's will, in the area of community involvement, to even attract "haters"?
On a scale of one to five, with five being high, how would you grade your carrying out your community involvement duties?
What are you doing to develop and maintain a grade of five?
Great and awesome God, I praise You for being such an awesome God who has a marvelous plan for Your people.
I thank You for saving me and allowing me to be numbered among Your people. I thank You for allowing me to be among those who You have called to do great things.
I confess that I have not always done my best to discern and obey Your will for my life. I pray that You would forgive me for this and my many others sins, in the name of Jesus.
Please help me to work even harder at making progress in carrying out Your will with my community involvement duties. Give me political wisdom, energy to serve with groups, and compassion to respond to needs of those who are hurting.
Help me stay focused, even when "haters" come into my life. I thank You, in the name or Your Son and my Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
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Dr. Robert E. Baines, Jr.
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