". . . serve Him shoulder to shoulder." -Zephaniah 3:9
I was looking for another verse when those words jumped off the page at me. I continued what I was doing, but these words wouldn't leave my mind. I had to come back to them and take a closer look.
Restoration to What it Should Have Been
Those are just the last handful of words in Zephaniah 3:9. The title in my Bible right above the verse is "Restoration of Israel's Remnant." Zephaniah was a prophet to the nation of Judah during the reign of King Josiah. In 2 Kings 22-23, we can see that Josiah was a king who followed God.
Zephaniah was prophesying under the reign of a king who bringing the people back in line with God's commands. He spoke about God restoring His people and what that would look like.
In Zephaniah's prophecy about the remnant being restored, he speaks of the people serving God shoulder to shoulder. All ages, all walks of life serving God together. The life of God's people was a communal life. They all lived together and did life together.
It's For Us Too
Serving God shoulder to shoulder . . . What a beautiful picture! A picture of how it should have always been. And a declaration of what God had in store.
That picture isn't just one for the remnant of Israel that would be restored, it's a picture that should be reality for those of us who serve Christ today. We should be serving Christ shoulder to shoulder. Working together.
We weren't called to do anything in the life of serving Christ by ourselves. We were called to do it in community. Standing shoulder to shoulder.
Jesus did His earthly ministry in community. He travelled and taught and did His miracles with His disciples. When He sent His followers out to minister, He sent them in pairs. When we read of the early church, we read of people travelling together as they shared the message. And when they arrived somewhere they sought out the local believers to work alongside them.
The Old Testament is also filled with examples of people who served God shoulder to shoulder, rather than going it alone. Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon, and others . . . they all had people who they served with, who they turned to for advice.
It doesn't mean any of these examples (except for Christ) did it perfectly or that there weren't problems that arose from this way of serving Christ. But, it was seen as so important, they would work through any problems that came up.
That means we need to do the same today. We need to be serving Christ shoulder to shoulder with others who are serving Christ. Serving Christ in our lives could be in some sort of ministry role or in our everyday lives as we work and interact with people around us.
Part of a Church
If we're going to serve Christ shoulder to shoulder then we have to be a part of a body of believers. We have to have a church that we're a part of. I know some of you may not like that I said that, but I believe it's true.
I'm not going to tell you exactly what a church should look like, but it needs to be more than just your friends who talk like you, think like you, act like you. We need friends, but a church should be more than that. Without interacting with people who are different than us, we'll miss out on many opportunities to grow and change in the ways God wants us to.
The church - the local church you are a part of - should be a group of people who don't all look, talk, act, or think alike who are seeking to serve Christ with their whole lives shoulder to shoulder.