Building a Roof that Lasts

I had no idea how much work it would take to replace the old, crumbling roof on our one hundred year-old house.  Soon after we moved in, my wife and I began to notice small areas of soft wood, where the water could sneak through and cause damage to the  ceiling and surrounding dry wall.  This was disturbing, but not uncommon in old houses I'm afraid.  Water finds a way.  If there is an entry point or weak spot anywhere in your house, chances are good that mother nature has begun working on that area in some way.  This is the natural way of things of course - if you don't fix it in the beginning, you will certainly have to fix it later.  The only the problem with waiting is that it can be larger, cost more to fix, and probably take longer.  All things considered, we knew it was time for a new roof.  

After a month of sawing, cutting, sheeting, and hard labor, the team of roofers that we hired were finally done.  Cleanup was minimal due to the conscientious manner in which the workers toiled.  My thanks go out again to the Amish for the quality job they did.  Our home no longer leaks during Spring storms.  This raises a certain analogy in my mind as it relates to Scripture and the human search for truth.  I don't believe it is too much of a stretch to consider a pedagogy in which a new roof can be viewed in a similar way to theology.  Certainly the directional metaphor applies:  we look up to God in heaven, and we also look up to the roof on a house.  It is the top most section of a home.  In fact, if we cannot stop our roof from leaking and letting in rain and snow, eventually everything else in that building will be at risk.  Images of the Clarke Griswold character from the movie National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation come to mind.   Who knew people could actually fall through their ceiling while installing Christmas lights?  I'm sure it happens.

But what if you and I don't take the time to cover ourselves in solid theology?  What if the outside, brackish water has found its way into a weak roof?  I am sorry to say, it is  possible to become accustomed to placing buckets under the ceiling at various parts of the home to catch leaks.  We can even become comfortable doing that.  When it rains outside, you can always run to the kitchen and select your favorite piece of Rubbermaid, right?

The Apostle Simon Peter from the Bible was really good at providing a reality check for the early Christian church.  There were no leaky theologies on his watch.  He gave this warning to the early Christ followers in 2 Peter 1:16, "For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty." There isn't much wiggle room here.  You see, the early church often had problems with letting in occult-like beliefs and bad ideology just like we do today.  We are surrounded by divisive teaching in the twenty-first century.  People don't know what to believe anymore, and I can't say that I blame them.  The notion of God has become more of a buffet-style, 'take what you want and leave the rest' framework.  If it works for me, then I accept it.  If not, then I reject it.  Who knows if it is really true or not.

Peter saw this back then, and I'm certain modern pastors see this today.  It may be time for us to replace our theological roof.  The only problem is there are too many contractors to choose from.  It is a confusing landscape out there.  It begs the question: how do we gird up our theology to be both accurate and strong?  How do we stop the leaking roof in a way that will last for generations to come and provide for our children?  How do we know what is true?

Fortunately Peter answers this question in the same breath.  In 2 Peter 1:19 he says, "We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts."   In other words, he was reminding the church to hold fast to their original teaching as given to them by Jesus.  Do not fall prey to the latest, most interesting (yet aberrant) teaching that may be floating around at the time.  

So how does the modern believer begin the task of replacing his or her roof?  We must  search out the completely reliable message Peter was talking about.  We must pray, seek after God, read the Bible, and attend church.  These things can work together to keep us focused and attentive to the things that God is telling us.  Omit just one of these four things, and the tendency exists to backslide into picking and choosing what we feel like believing in.  In effect, creating our own version of what is right and what is wrong.  A makeshift theology often based more on emotion than truth.  Fortunately, the real God has given us the tools to repair our roof effectively, and He helps guide us as we begin the process.  But we must allow Him to do so - it is a two-way street.

By the way, cleaning up ruined dry wall and picking up drip buckets isn't always easy.  It involves rooting out the damage already done by the brackish water.  Likewise, strengthening our theology can be just as difficult.  It's always easier to rest on what we have already learned (good or bad), and simply accept the status quo.  God however, requires us to dig a bit deeper.  He desires for us to challenge ourselves against what Jesus says in the Bible.   To come to grips with the fact that Jesus really is the way, and that God really can transform lives.   

As I mentioned earlier, my Amish friends did a great job on our roof.  It will last for years and years to come.  I believe it will allow us to weather all manner of rain and wind.  The process itself was difficult - I watched them work every day and I saw firsthand what it took.  It was often windy and cold, and at times the weather itself even seemed to purposely thwart our efforts.  Still they pressed on.  A good roof is worth the trouble I suppose.  So is good theology.



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