revjoaquinwillisweb.gifDevelopers know that before you can build on a property, you must do an environmental study, even before you clear it. One must first check to see if there is toxic waste that could kill you in the building process, or that could later lead the project to be condemned. Smart people know you cannot build where there is brokenness. 

There is a lot of broken glass in our society. There is an old saying,: “People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.”  Despite rough exteriors, underneath most
people are sensitive and have fragile feelings.

Most of us live in glass houses, and when we get hurt, we leave a trail of broken glass behind. When hurt by the actions and sins of others, we hurt others, because we carry shattered feelings around for generations. At best, most of us are a blend of the best and the worst of our past.

Marian Wright Edelman, president of The Children’s Defense Fund, states, “The trouble with our children today is they are growing up in a toxic environment where the selfishness of parents and moral, ethical decay of the church and America make it difficult to raise them healthily.”

Similarly, the prophet Ezekiel (18:2) said, “The fathers eat sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” This belief in the corporate life of people led Ezekiel to charge Israel with fatalism and irresponsibility.

Ezekiel then gives the people God’s new policy for their new age in exile. The people had misconstrued the old policy given by Moses in Exodus (20:5-6). God said
through Ezekiel (18:4), “The soul who sins will die.” God judges each person individually, not because of their parents, or former generations. Although we often suffer from the effects of sins committed by our parents who came before us, God does not punish us for their sins, and we cannot use their mistakes as an excuse to commit new mistakes.

God is a God of love, but He is also a God of perfect justice. Edelman also states that our sense of community is broken and that it is causing our children’s educational performance to plummet.

More and more in our communities, we are trying to “build on broken glass,” using shattered lives to do so. Our lives today are shattered by the challenges of today’s society.  While parents struggle to make ends meet, they are often forced to focus more on money, and we therefore leave the children alone and behind too often.

Beth Moore, in her book Breaking Free states, “As we survey our ruins, we must not try to preserve them, we must begin to rebuild by clearing away the debris.”

Moore further states, “To rebuild, we must first agree to take an honest look back. Then we must believe the truth over the enemy’s lies, and discern the difference between rebuilding and preserving the ancient ruins. Finally, we must accept God’s appointment as a reconstruction worker.”

God calls us to preserve our history, but not to preserve our ruins! We should inspect our ruins and then work with God to rebuild our communities. Many of us get stuck preserving the ruins.  We just keep revisiting and preserving them, and we never seem to be able to get over them.

We have all done things for which we are ashamed, and we live between the tension of what we’ve been and what we are to become. Because our hope is in Christ, we can let go of our past guilt and look forward with God’s help to what He would have us be.

Sometimes, trying to live a perfect Christian life can be difficult. It leaves us drained and discouraged. Paul, in Philippians (3:17) told people who were looking to become Christians, “Follow my example.” Could you do that?

Tell people, “If you want to see a Christian, watch what I do.” 

The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door at 6001 NW 8th Ave., Miami.  To contact the church, call 305-759-0373 or email the pastor at