Which is more important, Offence or Defence?
“Is there anything more important than building my home?”
As a Canadian I know that the expected answer is “No” but it’s not the right one.
We are a family centred society, which is not a terrible thing at all and expect that building our family home (in every sense) is the most important thing. More important than working too hard, more important even than friendships and other good things.
Though the intent is good, the assumption beneath it is what kills us…
Most people would rather score a goal than win the game.
Be honest and ask yourself “How are my marriage and family really doing? Are most families that I know of working the way they should?”. This scares us because most of the time we would have to say that they aren’t. Divorce, split families, the search for an elusive happiness that keeps slipping through our fingers because we’ve assumed that our home is the most important thing there could be (which is a partial truth), but it’s not the real question we need to be asking is it? I mean, if we knew what we were doing we’d have the results we want wouldn’t we?
So I have a question: What’s the point of building a home if it is unprotected? We spend so much time working to acquire stuff that we would naturally install a burglar alarm so it’s inaccessible to those to whom it doesn’t belong, but do we protect the relationships inside that mean so much more?
“Who wants to take away our relationships? That’s crazy!”
Is it? Are relationships between spouses and kids being pulled apart? We’d have to say that the odds are ever in favour (a little Hunger Games there…) of your family NOT making it. That’s a fact.
Your life and mine are like living in a city in ancient times. There is an event in the bible that actually describes what it’s like in parallel terms that we need to understand if we are to make it to 80 still married with our grandkids coming over to have coffee with us. That would be a win for me, but a win requires research, brains and an investment that pays off with success in the end.
Nehemiah is in a foreign land when he hears of the trouble of his people in Jerusalem. The Jews had forsaken God and done terrible things and were wide open for a stronger enemy to destroy the city Jerusalem, taking them away captive. Your past certainly affects your present and they were stuck in a bad place.
Ezra had returned with a remnant to establish worship (a very important thing in your home) and rebuild Solomon’s temple in the sacred city. This was good and necessary. You have to begin praying before God can hear and answer you and this requires things like focus and repentance when we consider our ways, say we are sorry, and live under God’s moral code once again.
But the Wall around the city was still in ruins.
Nehemiah has it all in the court of the King. When he hears the news from his brother something slams him hard and he never recovers. To hear the great distress his own people lived in day after day in the midst of their enemies so hurt him that he travelled to Jerusalem to do something.
Before you DO SOMETHING you have to admit that something needs to be done in the first place. If you’d like to wake up one morning and realize your marriage is over before you even knew there was a problem like so many people do.. that is actually your choice. We prepare for things coming down the pipe that we can see but that’s not what kills us. Oh, and we assume that we see everything. That’s just ignorant and stupid! Sorry to be hard on you but a little pain now beats the heck out of what normally happens.
“But love will be enough!”
No it won’t. The home is simply an investment of wisdom.
Nehemiah looks at the Wall and says “There’s the problem!”
The Jews lived in the midst of their enemies. They could build the temple but couldn’t make it beautiful because at any time armed men could ride into town and take what they wanted. You could build an amazing home but why would you? At least their reality was evident to them. At least they felt the fear that we don’t feel! Every father would be obsessed with the safety of his wife and daughters all the time. This is the distress they physically felt.
Build the Wall as if your life depends on it. Build your house as if your comfort depends on it.
Nehemiah immediately mobilizes the people to begin an impossible task: clear the rubble and build the wall, how he organizes their resistance is absolutely brilliant and I don’t want you to miss this….
He has them build the Wall with their families in front of their own houses. Wow. Terrific leadership!
How motivated would you be if you knew that every brick you laid would keep the enemy away from your children?
But the Wall is only as strong as its weakest point. Here’s the part we don’t understand in an individualistic society. Ready?
The house is yours but the Wall is OURS.
What protects whom you love the most is built arm in arm with those you’re supposed to be doing life with. If you are a Christ follower this is your local church community. This is no individual project because the army that is coming against your own family is far too big for you. This opens the door to a desperation for community that we no longer live in anymore but our grandparents would understand.
Which is more important, Offence or Defence?
Offence is building your house and giving your kids opportunities and a family that maybe you never had. Defence is keeping your family from being torn apart.
We are terrible at community. We are selfish.
Most of us would rather score a goal than win the game.
My grandfather, father and uncles would all go to the neighbouring farms and help them get the crop harvested, bringing strength, equipment and expertise. When their crops were done the community would come and stay until the Kope fields were clear and the crop safe in the barn for winter.
Winter was Offence. Food was defence. If you harvested nothing your family faced a very real starvation. To live we used to have to band together arm in arm.
We’ve forgotten the WHY and can’t even do this anymore which is sad because God designed us for this.
Nehemiah assignes people a section of Wall and makes them personally accountable to the community for getting it done and getting it done right. He implements extreme systems and standardizes how they are building thereby making superstars of uneducated and unskilled volunteers. Everyone lays down their ideas as he issues orders for the building and they pick up his vision.
We simply wouldn’t do this anymore. We are too proud and too selfish. We have forgotten that the lives of our families depend on the Wall while we try to build those of our house thicker. A house will never keep out the enemy and if you look around you’d have to agree.
“Canada anoints no kings” a pastor friend of mine said.
True. And it’s not something to be proud of at all.
Why do the Americans understand that when a leader, and exceptional people rise up, all of society can rise with them?
Not so here…
Our passive aggressive, don’t tell me what to do, how dare you, what makes you think you’re better than me attitude makes us terrible followers. The individual level change we implement in our day could never affect a huge social problem because we are a selfish jealous people. Polite though… which makes it so hard to nail down. “Why can’t I be the leader?”
Only a selfish person sees adopting a common vision as losing themselves.
That’s what we’ve come to. Here we are and here’s my question:
I know you’ve spent your whole life building your house, but what percentage of your time and resources did you spend on the Wall in front of your house?
What percentage of time did you even show up in church last year? At Venue if you actually show up to eat spiritual food prepared and often paid for by others (by people who actually give 10% to God because He implemented it to build the Wall in front of our homes), you would only be giving 1.6% of your time to build the Wall that will either save or be to blame for the loss of what you say you care about the most. Weekend worship experiences and small groups. IF YOU EVEN GO.
This is really only like showing up for family dinner if you don’t volunteer at all and leaving before the dishes are done. Let me be a little hard on you… it will simply not be enough in the end. God made you a part of the Body of Christ. He designed it and He designed you for it. But you probably don’t like that I even said that? I’m trying to define reality and save you but it’s ok, I’ll be the one you come talk to when it all falls apart and surprises you. I’ll be nice and cry and pray with you but even then you’ll want me to blame the other parties and not be honest about YOU.
You could have seen it coming if you trusted in God’s way more than your own.
But most people have their own brand of Christianity that doesn’t even resemble what Jesus preached. “I give what I FEEL like God tells me” can normally be translated “I’m not giving what He already told me to where He told me to give it but this sounds spiritual…”. We lower the bar then lower His Word to meet the target where our arrows are flying.
God says what He says for a reason. To bless you. To protect you. Because He loves you and is smarter than you.
The vision for your house belongs to you which means if there’s hell to pay you will be the one who pays it.
The vision for the Wall belongs to the leaders God decides to give it to. If we can’t follow them and integrate into real community we might as well say goodbye to those we couldn’t bear to lose up front, and we only have ourselves to blame.
Canada anoints no kings.
Canada anoints no KING.
And that’s the problem….