Broken Windows

Last Christmas a couple of men broke one of my office windows in order to burglarize our church.  They walked away with a computer and a couple of tablets.  In between the breaking, the entering, and the leaving, they dug through my desk - taking nothing.  They left my many books on the shelves.

Just a few days ago I learned from another pastor that during this past summer, an unknown number of people broke into their church as well.  In similar fashion, probably because the perpetrators were the same as those from our Christmas break-in, they searched his office.  They did, however, do one thing that was different.  They dumped his books on the floor.  That causes me to wonder - if they were indeed the same thieves, why did they leave my books alone and dump his? 

Based on speculation alone, I reason that they grew more confident during the approximately six-month period between the burglaries.  They felt confident enough to stay a few extra minutes and cause damage - just for the fun of it. 

Windows are fixed.  Computers are replaced.  And books sit nicely on their shelves.  However I still wonder why the presumably young thieves targeted our churches and took time to cause harm. 

While I will most likely never know their exact reasoning, I trust that I know a deeper reality.  Namely, each person (including the one writing this) is capable of taking actions that are selfish as well as harmful to others. 

Most of us will not break the windows on churches and steal church items, but do we break relationships because of hurt feelings?  I have never thrown a person's books on the floor, yet I have harbored anger toward one whose words caused me deep concern and self-pity. 

We don't break in and enter the property of others on Christmas Day, but do you recall when you rejected the opportunity to invite someone onto your property and into your home?

Perhaps you are familiar with these words of Paul.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?
Romans 8:22-24 (NIV)
When people break windows (actually and metaphorically) in my life, I know the reason.  When I break windows, I recall that "all have sinned" includes me.  It is then that I best understand and fully appreciate "his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."  

The faulty way of others and the foolish ways of our own provide a time either to give way to anger (at them; at ourselves) or once again show our appreciation to God for His grace.  I suggest the latter.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28 (NIV)


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