March 2024 Message From Pastor Stephanie “Brokenness and Building”

Have you seen the movie “Annihilation?” It’s not my usual type of movie (I’m not much into sci-fi or scary movies) but so many friends recommended it, so I decided to take a chance. It definitely wasn’t a feel-good kind of epic sci-fi, but was a “that really made me think and I’m still thinking about it” kind of movie. I can’t even try to explain the plot, but to give you some context, the story follows a group of explor-ers who enter “The Shimmer,” a mysterious quarantined zone of mutating plants and animals caused by an alien presence. Near the end of the movie, when trying to explain what she witnessed, the main character said, “It wasn’t destroying . . . it was changing everything. It was making something new.” What an analogy for the Christian life. For better or worse, we can destroy things and then build them back up into something new.

When I first entered seminary, I had to take a Bible Content exam, to determine whether or not we needed to take a couple of classes that covered the basics of the Bible and its over-arching story. I was told how difficult the exam was when I first arrived. It was legendary. The seminary president said he failed it. And it was difficult . . . I was asked questions that completely confounded me. I was asked to outline all the books of the Bible. I was asked obscure questions that were about the facts in the Bible, not really about the point of the Bible. For example, one question was “How long would the Nile River be if it were straight?” (I still have no idea what the answer is on that one.) The theory was taking the test would humble the students as they entered the seminary experience . . . it would break them down. I remember being so frustrated that I received a study guide for it four days before I had to take the exam . . . and it was 74 pages long! 74 pages! Was I going to be able to retain 74 pages of information in four days? Of course not. It all felt so obnoxious to me. We were being set up to fail. But what great things haven’t arisen from failure? When God allows something to be broken down, but doesn’t destroy it, there must be a purpose for a remnant to be left behind. When we receive Jesus as our Savior, we are made new, but we are not bright and shiny with no baggage. We bring ourselves to the party, and, though being made new again truly is a party, we still come with brokenness and a sinful nature as we are being made new. Sometimes we must break down in order to build something new.

Sometimes we can break ourselves down too much and perhaps even build up the wrong thing in its place. This is what’s so tricky about building. We have to start with the right foundation, and build on that foundation what is good and true and right. The apostle Paul has some profound words to say about this in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15: By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

When Paul started the church at Corinth, he was careful to build it on the foundation of Jesus Christ. But, as he needs to address several issues with the church in that letter, he reminds them that what is built on that foundation matters, too.

Our firm foundation is Jesus Christ, and if we attempt to build up anything in our lives with the rubbish of our own wisdom, Paul is plain to say that there will be consequences. And if we employ the materials which God has furnished, there will be rewards. Sometimes it’s best to be broken down. Maybe our pride needs it . . . maybe we have some idols that need to be knocked off their pedestals. Whatever the reason, we must take care to build up something much better in its place.

In Christ, Pastor Stephanie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *