Summary: In life, we may tear down relationships or we may build relationships. We use similar aspects to both destroy and build. Christians should be known as builders.

“Early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of the city was Luz at the first.” [1]

In the movie Forrest Gump, one scene pictures Forrest and Jenny walking down a dirt road. Childhood friends, both of them are now grown. The movie presents Jenny as having lived a hard life which was marked by sex, drugs, and living as a rock-and-roll groupie. Now, she is beginning to retreat from her self-destructive lifestyle. As they are walking down this road they come to the shack where Jenny had lived as a little girl. As Jenny walks toward the shack her face registers confusion, hatred, anger. She reaches down, picking up rock after rock and zinging them toward the house. Rocks hit, flecking off some of the paint which is already peeling. At last she picks up another rock, throwing it as hard as she can. This time the rock crashes through a window which is already broken. She throws so many rocks, flinging them with such rage that she at last exhausts herself and falls to the ground. Forrest watches silently, before walking up to drop down beside her and to say, “Sometimes, I guess there just aren't enough rocks.”

It seems apparent that what Forrest meant is that Jenny could have thrown rocks all day and never taken that house to the ground. Forrest would pay to demolish that old shack after Jenny’s death. I think Forrest also meant that she could have thrown rocks all day and she would never demolish the abuse she had known as a child; she would never demolish the effects of that abuse in her life. She could have thrown rocks all day and never, ever brought her torment, her agony, her misery, her anguish to an end.

What was true for Jenny is true for us. You and I can throw rocks and stones at situations and relationships from the past and present, and it will never relieve our agony. Rocks will never assuage our misery; rocks will never lessen our anguish; they will never erase our torment. The rocks represent words and hurts experienced now and in the past.

For some who share our worship, or who are reading the message, the source of your misery is rooted in the present as well as the past. We are each aware of marriages and relationships where the primary means of communication is rock throwing; and such people often have real good aim. They know just what to say to cause misery; they know just what to do to cause torment. At the extreme the rock becomes a knife or a bullet.

You and I know of growing and grown children who know just what to say and just what to do to cause pain and misery for their fathers and mothers. Accusations and actions are rocks that are aimed at parents in order to cause the most pain and misery. The message is, “I'm going to do just what I want to do and I am going to live just like I want to live.” Because of these rocks thrown without regard to the impact they will have, both parties are bloodied and bruised.

Just as we know children who are good at throwing rocks, you and I also know parents who are adept with words calculated to cause the most harm in their children. Neglect is one of the worst rocks that can be flung, and neglect has had long-lasting consequences for those who have been hit with this rock. Favouritism can be another effective rock to injure and destroy. Guilt is yet another of those rocks that parents seem often to use in order to drive their children to do what the parent wants.

The use of rocks to inflict pain, to destroy another, is not restricted to families. Unfortunately, I suppose that we each know employees and employers that know just what to say or to do to cause pain and misery. Some employers seem non-plussed at the rapid turnover of those who are employed by them. They seem oblivious to the impact of the rocks they throw, though it is apparent to those who have been hit by those rocks.

Tragically, we are all too familiar with churches and pastors who have gotten into this rock-throwing contest. There are pastors who browbeat their congregations, and they can’t explain why the church doesn’t grow. Church boards are notorious for beating pastors. The deacons, or the elders, or the tyrants that masquerade as church leaders, keep a tight rein on those who shepherd the flock. They aren’t certain why they are unable to keep a pastor for long; but they know that can can’t relax the strangle-hold on those who stand behind the sacred desk. And some congregations are just mean! They don’t want the Spirit of God to have freedom to work. They are in control, by golly, and they aren’t about to allow any movement outside of the channels they have chosen.

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