A time to tear down and a time to build…
Genesis teaches God creates beings, each of them equal, equally innocent and worthy of His name. From there, He gives us the reins and a second creative process begins. His objectives focus on the eternal; ours fixate on the temporal—on values that promote longevity. We create personalities, survival strategies that reject equality, spoil innocence, and deny those unlike us any claim to God’s promise. We forge coalitions of personalities with similar survival strategies. Together, we build walls to stymie the progress of any who contradict or threaten our way of life. Instead of relying on our beings’ willpower to please God, we reinforce our personalities’ wall power to accomplish what most pleases us.
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10.4-5: “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Paul addresses our conflicts rather than the War on Evil that should unite us. He arms us with divine power to tear down walls constructed by anyone’s audacity to claim knowing what God knows. He identifies our power in Ephesians 2.14: “[Christ] is our peace… and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.” When bulldozing time comes, we lay aside our personal preference for battering rams and wrecking balls and take on the peaceful nature of Jesus. With no confrontation needed, the engagement seems unexciting and non-dramatic. But its results are always spectacular.
Divine power to demolish walls of injustice and ignorance has great appeal—particularly for those with subversive streaks. But if we devote all of our time to undoing others’ work, none is left for our work. While we destroy divisions created by some, God authorizes us to build faith in others. As with peaceful demolition, it’s counterintuitive. We build their strength by owning our weakness. “We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong,” Paul says in 2 Corinthians 13.9, conceding his readers are better versed than he. Yet in the next verse, he stands firm, citing “the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down.” This is constructive subversion at its highest.
Absolutely, we must speak divine power to walls. “Shout it aloud, do not hold back,” Isaiah 58.1 says. “Declare to my people their rebellion.” But times also come to inspire others to follow Jesus with us, building their courage to demolish their own walls of fear and arrogance. “There are times for bulldozing,” Solomon writes, “and times for building.” One without the other is a job half-done.
Sometimes we serve others by tearing down walls that unjustly limit them; at other times, we build their faith to destroy their walls themselves.
(Tomorrow: Lamenting and Laughing)