The other day, I was playing a multiplayer “build and defend” game with a couple of my teenage children. As I familiarized myself with the level, they fortified my base extensively, but they didn’t follow the same plan that I would have chosen. I tend to build symmetrically in a balanced manner, and they just threw down piles of walls and traps.
To be fair, at least one of the two had a lot more experience than me with this particular game. His designs might have been superior to my own, but as I came back to this persistent building (after I had played the game a while longer, and learned more about it), there were things that I thought about changing. I didn’t immediately tear down the previous defenses (since they were, in fact, working pretty well), but I did think about it. Eventually, as the game progresses, the fortification that worked well in earlier levels may very well need to be replaced with something else.
There are times when the old way of doing something needs to be torn down and rebuilt from scratch. As a software developer, an old program sometimes needs to be scrapped and re-written. There are buildings that have been added onto so many times that they probably need to be torn down and have a new building be constructed in their place. Business and marketing strategies that worked in the past often need to be replaced after their medium becomes obsolete (when was the last time you bought a newspaper from a paperboy shouting about the day’s headlines?).
Of course, God is ahead of us. Even He speaks of doing something new, back in the book of Isaiah:
“Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert.
Isaiah 43:19 NASB
God is the ultimate Maker of new things. The universe that He created would be a good example, being full of innovation and all manner of constructs and living beings that came from His imagination. In Christ, God the Father also offers us new life (after we messed up the first one He gave to each of us).
I think that sometimes, following Jesus is mistaken for some minor life decision, like starting a new diet, or joining a gym. We might act a little different (maybe not party as much), or go somewhere on a regular basis (like going to church every week…or two). But, that’s not the scale of transformation that God offers those who follow Jesus. It is a totally new sort of living: our priorities fundamentally shift (from ourselves, to Him); our reason for living re-sets (again, from ourselves, to Him); and, our source of strength changes (yet again, from ourselves, to Him).
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
2 Corinthians 5:17 NASB
(see also Romans 6:4)
Said another way, when we follow Jesus, we sometimes need to start over. There are times when we need to break down some pretty well-established “structures” in our lives and rebuild them entirely. Following Jesus isn’t about just putting a new coat of paint on the façade of our lives. We don’t just hang some new inspirational signs in our kitchen or office, or make sure that our jewelry or T-shirts have crosses on them. I don’t know about you, but some serious remodeling has been necessary in my life, and there are still some walls where I think that Jesus – the Master Builder – has spray-painted a big red “X”, indicating that they need to come down in a future wave of demolition and [re-]construction.
Even for those who have followed Jesus for a while, God sometimes calls upon us to re-set things in our lives. In a new season of life, He might ask us to make a fundamental change in location, role, or trust level. When following Jesus in a certain way becomes “comfortable” or “routine” (despite the excitement of living with purpose and a mission), sometimes a shakeup is required to rekindle our energy and our faith.
So, don’t be afraid to tear something down when God directs you to. He makes it clear in His word that strongholds of sin need to go, but you’ll have to listen carefully to Him to understand what else might need to change. Keep the hammer and nails handy for building, but also the sledgehammer for tearing down what is no longer needed.