This is a simple, straight forward book that gives honest reflections on living the Christian life.
We live in a world of distraction and hype. Death is not discussed, pain is to be avoided at all cost and anyone who gives an honest reflection that this hyped up, online, fast paced world is actually not all that great is treated like a heretic.
That’s probably why I enjoyed reading this book. Tripp just calls it as it is. There are not theological twists, there are no ‘new’ ideas put forward, it is just a simple discussion about what the Bible says about life in this world – To live productively in a world gone bad
As the title suggest Tripp uses the metaphor of a broken down house.
Both our world and our own lives are not as they are meant to be. We are broken. There is still much good in life but it is constantly interrupted by the brokenness that surrounds us and resides within us. Tripp describes the Christian journey as a difficult one as we seek to live in a house that God is in the process of restoring. In committing ourselves to Jesus we commit ourselves to his lordship and restoration of our own lives – but this is never easy.
“The fact that you live in a broken-down house in the midst of restoration makes everything more difficult. It removes the ease and simplicity of life. It requires you to be more thoughtful, more careful. It requires you to listen and see well. It requires you to look out for difficulty and to be aware of danger. It requires you to contemplate and plan. It requires you to do what you don’t really want to do and to accept what you find difficult to accept. You want to simply coast, but you can’t. Things are broken and they need to be fixed. There is work to do.” P.19
Tripp does not call us to work by simply trying harder, but rather by giving a vision and providing an understanding of God’s plans for this world and his plan for our life through his Son Jesus. In this way we work with God in the powerful process of bringing restoration to broken places.
I admire Tripp’s ability to be honest about the difficulties of the Christian life without leaving us in despair. His focus is on God’s love for the brokenness and His plan to restore that which he loves. The burden is not on us, but we are called to partake in his beautiful rebuild.
Part One is all about Knowing.
Knowing how broken this world really is
Knowing how broken we as individuals really are
Knowing our limits and our weaknesses
Knowing God has ultimate control
Knowing why placing our trust in God’s control works
Knowing how to have an eternal focus and to seek to do good whilst also giving ourselves permission to be angry at the state that sin has left our world in.
One particular section stood out where Tripp highlights how limited we really are as human creatures;
“You can only be in one place at a time. You can only be in one time at a time: You cannot propel yourself back into the past or launch yourself into the future; your existence is permanently anchored in the here and now.
You cannot think things into existence or alter what has already happened. You cannot remove a conversation from history or redo a disappointing day. You cannot know the details of tomorrow, let alone know exactly where you will be in five year!
You cannot decide you are bored with gravity and want to be free of it. You cannot make a personal commitment to do without oxygen and remain alive. You cannot read or reliably predict the thoughts of another. You cannot control thoughts, desires, words, or actions of another human being. You cannot keep yourself from aging, as hard as some of us will try.
You cannot release yourself or your surroundings from the effects of the fall. You cannot assure that your body will be free of disease and sickness. You cannot independently free yourself or another from sin. You cannot reach in and alter the content of your own heart, let alone the heart of another. You cannot plant faith, courage, and hope into the soul of another person. You cannot assure that your government will have integrity or your community will be safe. You cannot make your acquaintances respect you, and you cannot assure your family members will treat you with love. You cannot keep yourself free from natural and environmental disaster. You cannot control the economic environment, making sure that it does not alter your financial health. You cannot lay out a personal life plan and know it will unfold without interruption. You cannot assure that your life will be easy and satisfying.”
Rather than depressing his readers, Tripp see’s our limitations as a powerful entry point towards trusting the one who is in control in such a broken down world.
Part Two is all about Doing.
Determine to love
Examine your legacy
This back half is all practical. Tripp gives 3 pages of examples of ways you can actually love others; from being willing to live with an open house to being willing to endure tense and uncomfortable situations lovingly.
He suggest that to live with an eye fixed on grace is actually a battle we have to fight in a world that is saturated in merit.
And he calls us to seek to break down the walls in our lives between ‘ministry’ and the ‘rest of life’. “Remember, in this broken-down house that we all live in, every room of life is at the same time a forum for ministry. You will never face a day that is not filled with ministry need and opportunity. The questions are, Are your eyes open to the need, and Are you capturing the God-given opportunities?”
There were not a lot of new ideas in this book for me. But it is helping me see that I have doubted God’s plan of restoration. I have felt more of the broken down nature of both my life and my world and it’s just left me flat.
To engage the heart we need a vision and a mission and to be honest the best vision and mission is right there in the pages of scripture. It is right there in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. It is honest about our world and hope filled about our future.