I Was a Cupbearer for the King

"I was a cupbearer for the King." -- With those words Nehemiah identified himself (see Nehemiah 1:11). The sentence’s importance is seen most clearly by means of contrast.  Namely, we do well to acknowledge what Nehemiah is not.   He was a cupbearer; not a priest, or a preacher, or a “saint,” or a religious teacher, or a Hebrew scripture scholar, or a prophet.

Listen to a portion of Eugene Peterson’s introduction to his translation of the book of Nehemiah.

“Separating life into distinct categories of “sacred” and “secular” damages, sometimes irreparably, any attempt to live a whole and satisfying life, a coherent life with meaning and purpose, a life lived to the glory of God.  Nevertheless, the practice is widespread.  But where did all these people come up with the habit of separating themselves and the world around them in two camps?  It surely wasn’t from the Bible.  The Holy Scriptures, from the beginning to end, strenuously resist such a separation. 

The damage to life is most obvious when the separation is applied to daily work.  It is common for us to refer to the work of pastors, priests, and missionaries as “sacred” and that of lawyers, farmers, and engineers as “secular.”  It is also wrong.  Work, by its very nature, is holy.”  (The Message)

As a fan of the Ordinary, I find the words of Nehemiah and Peterson refreshing. They challenge the all-too-commonly held assumption that only a select few can make a positive lasting impact on the earth for the glory of God.  Platform and prestige matter much less that passion and commitment to our life tasks.  

Nehemiah was a cupbearer.  He found a way to use his bearing of cups to restore the dignity of a nation.  Use your work / task / responsibilities / role / status / hobbies to make a difference.  If holy work is left to the “holy,” much will remain undone. 

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.  Romans 12:1 (The Message)

1 comment:

  1. Thank you! I lay my next phase at His feet with thanksgiving.