Skin in the Game (Nehemiah 2)

Sermon Recap

In spite of their suffering, our brothers and sisters in China show us a faith that is often far different from the safe, sanitized version of Western Christianity that seldom needs to risk anything. They worship with the constant possibility of persecution, following Jesus with skin in the game.

1. Engage the Impossible

Nehemiah’s desire to help Jerusalem seemed like an impossible task. He needed to get out of his duties as cupbearer to the Persian king, gather up resources and manpower, and reverse a royal decree. Despite the odds, Nehemiah still asks. We should consider how difficult the task is of being a church in the Bay Area. We worship and remain here because our ultimate call and final responsibility is to  Jesus alone. We continue on because God wants us here.

2. Take a Risk

Nehemiah risked a lot in going to the king with his request. He put his life on the line and asked boldly, knowing there was no guarantee that things were going to work out. For the church in the Bay Area to thrive, we must be willing to take risks and consider a sacrifice of security, comfort, or convenience to testify of God’s glory here. Jesus didn’t ask us for small donations. He told us to deny ourselves and follow him. That’s the kind of risk we’re called to.

3. Remember Who’s Boss

This is a difficult task but it’s made possible because who is ultimately in control. Nehemiah trusted his God in prayer, knowing who his ultimate authority was, and where any blessing came from. We can take on an impossible task and risk our well-being because Jesus has already taken all the risk for us. He’s already accomplished the impossible for us in be raised from death to life. What more assurance do we truly need?

Reflection and Application

  1. What in your life right now feels like an impossible task or person to address? Why?

  2. Why do you think it’s so hard to be a church in the Bay Area? What makes it so difficult to be a Christian here?

  3. To what degree do you feel like you’ve been called to live here? Why? How do you think this affects how you live and interact with others?

  4. When you look back on your spiritual life, have you had to take any risks to follow Jesus? Have you had to make any big sacrifices or difficult decisions? What were they?

  5. How does the gospel encourage us to take risks and attempt the impossible?

Consider reading the full letter from Pastor Wang Yi of Early Rain Covenant Church and please be in prayer for the persecution of our Chinese brothers and sisters.