Burn Down or Build Up?

We are living in tense times. The rate at which our culture is polarizing and the extremes at which they are ending up is concerning. Quickly vanishing are middle-ground approaches, meaningful dialogue, and a genuine desire to understand someone else’s point of view. Civility is being replaced by anarchy and the volatility of seemingly every single public event just keeps amping up the rage. It breaks my heart to see these things unfold, and I really only have one thing to say.

If you are a believer in Jesus, resist the urge to burn down. Instead, do the hard work of building up. About the only thing we can all agree on is that things are not right the way they are. Our world needs change, hope, and a plan for the future. No one denies this. Yet what are we to do with this problem? There are really only two approaches: burning or building.

It seems that more and more people are taking the easy route of burning down. I mean this both literally and metaphorically. One can burn down a building, a neighbourhood, or a cop car with some gasoline and fire. Others can burn down ideas, friendships, families, morals, or public figures through metaphysical means of burning. Censorship, intimidation, public smearing, unforgiveness, and the like are all tools of those who seek to destroy. But let’s be honest for a moment. How hard is it to burn something down? A toddler can do it by accident. A strike of the match is all you need and the rest takes care of itself. There’s nothing impressive about that. Even Jesus said that Satan came to “seek, kill, and destroy“.

Again protesters carrying signs face off with Oakland Police Officers on the other end of 7th and Broadway. May 29, 2020. Photo: Pete Rosos

But believers are not to partake in this way. We are supposed to be different. The Bible calls us not to be those who burn down but those who build up. Scripture reminds us that “love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). Unlike burning, which takes very little effort, building is a demanding enterprise. To build a nation, a city, a neighbourhood, a business, a family, or a church takes hard work. It takes commitment. It is a slow and painful process that many are afraid to bother with. Yet I contend that God does not give his followers an option in this regard. We are called to be builders. Christ called us to engage in the lives of others around us and love them without restraint. He calls us to be those who lift others up and not tear them down.

My only goal in this short essay it to remind my fellow Christians to focus on building, not burning. Do not allow your frustration to lead you to partner with Satan in his work of destruction. Rather, partner with God in his work of restoration. Yes, it will be much more difficult. Yes, it will be slow to yield results. But if we truly are going to love God and this world he has entrusted to us, there simply is no other way forward.

1 Comments on “Burn Down or Build Up?”

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