From Jim O'Brien
November 08, 2019

A Time to Tear Down

Hi Friend,

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. We want to save the historic landmark.

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.

It reminds us of a fundamental reality of life-everything is 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, take heart-Solomon wrestled with the same reality. So he asked the natural question, "What does the worker gain from his toil?" (Eccl. 3:9)

Somebody invested his life working on an assembly 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 have seemed at one time, all of them had to go. Some sooner than others.

The news is reporting terrible atrocities in foreign countries as mad dictators struggle to retain power amidst the poverty of their country. Soldiers have been sent into the streets to murder protestors.

Maybe God is thinking it's time for the tyrant to go. Surely there's something better to replace him. But, I'm not optimistic that the next dictator will be any better.

Economist Joseph Schumpeter coined the phrase "Creative Destruction." 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.

Surprisingly, the same principle applies 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) Thank God for removing those men and their stifling systems so we could have access to the Savior. Something had to be destroyed before something better could be created.

Man may spend too much time trying to preserve existing structures. Even this earth will fade away.

The Prophet Isaiah talked about a time yet future when God will destroy what now exists for the purpose of creating a better world. "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 Joseph Schumpeter learned about creative destruction from reading the Bible.

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien