If you are feeling complacent or smug in your faith, please take some time to read the book of Haggai. Its chilling words to Christians in their generation stands as an indictment against Christians of all generations, particularly those of us in the West.
This book was written 16 years after freedom from Babylon. The people of God had returned to Jerusalem and had been given the task of rebuilding the temple. Yet, they didn’t do anything for 16 years. There was internal dissension as one obstacle. There was the threat of enemy attacks. There was some financial hardships. The result – nothing got done. Haggai 1:4 captures the essence of the problem – "Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?" The Lord’s house, the temple, lay in ruins, yet nothing had been done to rebuilt it. Oddly, though the people seemingly didn’t have the resources to rebuild the temple, the people had enough time and energy and drive to panel and beautify their homes.
What an indictment against us living as Christians in the West? How many of us have churches that are in turmoil and all we can think about is when we can save enough money to do some renovations to our homes? How many of us have heard God tell us to do something for him and we start and leave it half done because we are too busy with our career advancement or upgrading our cars? How many of us expend so much energy on our own comfort and that of our families and ignore the many who are hungry and needy and who are like sheep without a shepherd harassed and directionless without knowledge of their Good Shepherd?
How appropriate is Haggai’s challenge to us in Haggai 1:7 – This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways." Have you taken stock of your life? Have you inventoried your heart recently? When is the last time I reflected on my actions, my behavior, my lifestyle to see if my ways accurately match up with my confessions about how important God and His church are in my life?
Haggai is a book about repentance. It is a book about turning our focus away from ourselves to God and the things of God. It is a book which asks us to take up our calling again to be salt and light, to carry our crosses and to be his witnesses in this world.