Have you ever heard the saying “If you build it, they will come”?
This popular saying is based off of a quote from the movie Field of Dreams. We hear it often, usually in connection with ministries, programs, or facilities that are launching or expanding. However, the whole concept is a myth and by no means a Biblical belief. Unfortunately, many people actually believe that it is a Bible verse or a summation of a promise made by God.
What This Mindset Is Not
Those who consider the concept Christian in nature often justify it as is related to God’s dwelling in the Temple in Israel. His people built a house for Him – and He came. Somehow, we miss the part when God determined who would build it and where He would dwell. In fact, God was very specific about this. He even told David not to construct the building before giving Solomon the task.
Even basic logic impresses on us the falsehood of this saying. You can open twenty bank accounts, but that doesn’t mean they will fill with money. If you cook a meal for twelve, that doesn’t mean that twelve people will show up at the table. Of course, we know that our Lord performs miracles, but throughout the Bible He does so to prove and confirm things about Himself, not to glorify men.
What This Mindset Is
To assume that God will support our plans can be very prideful. We might “submit to our own righteousness,” developing our own kingdoms on earth (Romans 10:3). Even projects and plans that we do “for God,” if they are not in line with God’s will, reflect only on our selfish desires.
A church, for example, that builds a new auditorium for 500 people because the staff are pursuing a particular reputation or cause, may be acting in pride and not in obedience. Such actions reflect this foolish, self-centered idea that God is on our bandwagon.
In 2 Peter 1, we are told to make “our calling sure”. The verse warns us against being short-sighted, which leads to stumbling. A list of qualities of the Godly, including knowledge and self-control, is given in this passage to indicate how we can be sure that we are in line with God’s plans. Every idea is not good, everything that is permissible is not beneficial (1 Corinthians 10:23). Further, God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8). All throughout Scripture we see that God is more concerned with our hearts being His than anything else. When our plans pursue roundabout avenues of pleasing God, rather than the direct path of humble submission, we are acting in a short-sighted manner, regardless of how many years ahead our plans span.
The result of believing and acting on this saying, as many abandoned, half-finished, and bankrupt churches and ministries can attest, is waste. Jesus condemns storing up things on this earth excessively. Through passages like Luke 12, which is about a man and his storehouses, the Lord makes clear that all of our worldly things are ultimately futile because they will pass away. We are to store up our treasures in heaven. We are to avoid excess. Large buildings and extensive ministries can be Godly, but they can also be wasteful, loaded with surplus and extravagance.
Come, And He May Build It
“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” –Psalm 127:1
Christ delights in our obedience. At times, He calls us to build. Sometimes to build each other up, at other times to build homes and structured things (like His body in unity!) We can come to the Lord and ask when we have dreams and ideas. He is faithful to answer perfectly those who ask in faith and seek to build on the rock, which is His truth. By earnestly and humbly approaching the Lord with our plans, we protect ourselves from the many snares of simply assuming that our desires our righteous. What He builds lasts. What He builds is a part of His will and has eternal impact for His glory.