by Michael E. Brooks
“Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:9b-10 NKJV).
The Katalthala Church of Christ dedicated their new brick building in December, 2011. It stands over the location of a previous “tin shed” building in which they had met for 15 years or so. This building was destroyed by Cyclone Sydr in 2007.
Obviously if that building were still standing, the need for the new one would not be as great. More to the point, so long as that building stood on the Church’s property, the new one could not be built. It had to be removed to make room for the better one.
God’s call to Jeremiah describes the prophet’s mission. He is to root out, pull down, destroy and throw down every obstacle to the rebuilding of Godly faith in Judah. Until their idolatry, materialism, immorality, and dependence upon human rather than divine assistance were removed, genuine faith in the Lord could never exist.
This remains a major task of evangelism today. The Hebrew writer stated it: “Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). Tear it down; root it out; make room for genuine faith and a new life in Christ.
Sometimes we must clear away our obstacles ourselves. Often our jobs, hobbies, or relationships are hindrances to faith. Many find it difficult to give up their Sunday morning “sleep in” or golfing date, or fishing trip in order to worship God. Others are continually led back into worldliness by unbelieving friends or family.
Still others are consumed with the demands of vocation and simply will not make time for spiritual matters. Most of the time these things can be overcome only by, or at least with the help of, a personal decision to change priorities and focus. Even then a great deal of effort is required to actually make the change permanent.
There are occasions, however, when Divine providence clears away obstacles. Loss of a job, natural disaster, illness -– these are just a few of the many ways God takes things away from us and makes room for rebuilding.
It has long been known by scholars of evangelistic methods that major life transition points are the best possible time to reach someone with the gospel. The death of a spouse, change of jobs, or a move to a new city are good examples of transitions which often result in major life changes, including religious change.
As Christians interested in reaching others, we should be sensitive to the removal of obstacles, always ready to help someone build a stronger relationship with God. As Christians aware of our own need for stronger faith, we should also be alert for times when God tears down some hindrance in our own life, so that we can build correctly in the available space. And we must always seek to lay aside those weights and sins that hinder us.