We tend to think of God as the great Creator. God builds; He is the Author and Architect. It is Satan who destroys. The problem with this is that it’s only half right. It misses an essential characteristic of God, one we must understand to fully claim what God offers us. God is a destroyer. His creative work, in fact, relies on destruction.
The Bible is filled with examples of a destructive God. He is the Lord of Hosts. He lays waste, tears down, brings to ruin. He levels Sodom and Gomorrah, wipes the slate clean with the flood. Many believe incorrectly that this “harsh” Old Testament God was replaced with a kinder, gentler version in the New Testament.
But Christ was also a destroyer. He came with a sword to disrupt and destroy the established order of things. Not only did he overturn the tables in the temple, but he overturned our view of God and reality.
Destruction is a requirement for creation. Anytime something new is created, something old is destroyed in the process. Old buildings that have outlived their usefulness must be brought down. Overgrown and diseased forests must burn so that new growth and new life take root in the blackened soil. Bodies must be destroyed by disease and death before they can rise again in the resurrection. For “as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life”(Rom. 6:4). We cannot become a new self in God without destroying the old self in the process. “Our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed”(Rom. 6:6).
Too often new creation cannot happen in our lives because we are unwilling to destroy (or allow God to destroy) old patterns, old habits, and old beliefs. Christ spoke of renouncing the world and even the self. I do not believe this meant living in a cave and meditating for our entire lives. It means we must be willing to let old things die so that new ones can replace them. We renounce the self in order to find it.
My novel, Hearts of the Fathers, follows the journey of a soul in the afterlife where he must choose between destroying his old self and rising to his potential, or languishing in the hell of old habits and limiting beliefs acquired on Earth.
But this is precisely the dilemma we face every day. We say we want courage, but there is something in us still attached to weakness. We say we want to live to the fullest and let our light shine, but something in us does not want to destroy the comfortable self that hides from the light. Yet we know, deep down, that good enough must be destroyed to make room for great.
It is worth considering: What old patterns and mentalities are keeping us stuck? What needs to be destroyed in our lives right now? Maybe it’s a relationship. Maybe it’s a job. Maybe it’s an addiction we use to escape our reality rather than transform it. But maybe it’s something even deeper. Bad jobs, relationships, and addictions are usually manifestations of deeper fears that prevent us from living courageously. Are we willing to question those fears and beliefs, or just keeping getting by?
We all have things in our life that need destroying. Next time you pray, before praying to God the Creator to renew your life, consider first praying to God the Destroyer to help clear the way and make the necessary space for the abundant life to take root.
Sheldon Lawrence is the founder of bibledice.com, an award winning essayist, and author of the recent novel “Hearts of the Fathers: A story of Heaven, Hell, and the hope of new life after life.”