From Jim O'Brien
December 08, 2017

Hi Friend,

A Time to Tear Down

As a rule most people think it's wrong to destroy. We hate to see the old building torn down even when it will be replaced by something modern and beautiful.

I confess I can't stand to throw away old clothes. They've seen better days when the colors were vibrant and the elastic stretched tight. But now the sock drawer is filled with holey socks that sag around the ankles so the rag drawer gets replenished. Still, there's something unnatural about ripping apart a formerly good shirt or sheet so it can be used to clean the bathroom or polish the car.

Maybe so, but the reality of life is, all things are temporary. The exciting new car will eventually be crushed, the metal melted to be made into something better. And that's the key. Something better cannot be made until the old car is destroyed.

Solomon wrote that there is "a time to tear down and a time to build," (Eccl. 3:3). So understand from the time that you build the new house, with the latest technology, the granite counter tops and the heated sidewalks, that there will come a time to tear it down. A hundred years from now the average person will not want to live in the house of your dreams any more than you want to live in the house your great-grandfather built. Think of it-no electricity, no indoor plumbing, no insulation, no central heat or a/c. How could our grandparents have gotten excited about such a house?

Granddad's feather bed holds no appeal to a generation accustomed to a Sleep Number® bed. If that is just a little discouraging to you, take heart that it was to Solomon also. So he asked the natural question, "What does the worker gain from his toil?" (Eccl. 3:9)

Somebody spent a lot of time working on a factory line making feather beds and Model T Fords. What did the worker gain for all his trouble? The accountant whose eyes went dim working late into the night, missing time with the children, sacrificed a lot for something so transitory.

However valuable these "things" may seem now, all of them NEED to go. Some sooner than others.

Economist Joseph Schumpeter coined the phrase "Creative Destruction" to describe a healthy economy. He pointed out that some businesses are outdated. The government should not intervene to save them. The free-market economy is a rational system that destroys the obsolete so something better can take its place. Maybe the free-market system contains godly principles after all.

Can the same principle apply to churches? Jesus told the religious authorities of His day, ""the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit." (Matt. 21:43 NIV) Something had to be destroyed before something better could be created.

The Prophet Isaiah talked about the time when God will destroy what now exists for the purpose of creating something new. "For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not come to mind or be remembered. But, be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating." (Isaiah 65:17-18 NRSV).

Maybe God is the author of creative destruction.

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien