Rock and Sand

Matthew 7: 25

And the rain descended and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock.

Have you seen the movie, The Perfect Storm? Maybe you can picture a storm as described in this verse. Picture this: flooding, gale force winds and torrential rains. Against all these, who can stand? Jesus has an answer. He said this house stood because it was built upon the rock as contrasted with the house which was built upon the sand.

This is a metaphor for life. Jesus said that our lives can be compared to these two foundations. The house built upon the rock can bear the storms of life and will not fall. Of the house built upon the sand Jesus said, “Great was its fall” (v. 27). It is tragic seeing someone’s house crumble under the pressure of a storm; much more so when their lives cannot withstand the pressures of life.

Clearly, we all want to live in the house built upon the rock. We would all readily agree that a life built upon the rock means a life built upon Jesus. So often, though, these ideas turn into platitudes. We agree at a high level but what does it mean in practice, in real, everyday life? Fortunately, Jesus answered this question.

Everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to the wise man, who built his house upon the rock,” (v. 24). There are three distinct pieces to this statement: 1) a foundation built upon the rock, 2) the acts of the wise, and 3) how we handle Jesus’ words. A wise person is the one who hears Jesus’ words. We must put ourselves in the position to hear Jesus’ words spoken into our ears and our hearts. Of course, this involves reading the Word for ourselves but I also hear Jesus saying for us to hear others speak his words. We have many opportunities in the nations where most of us reside for Bible studies and to hear as many preachers as we want on either television or the internet. The opportunities are there, we need only avail ourselves of them, and this is wisdom.

Jesus did not stop with his admonition that we hear his words though. The next directive he gave us is the divider of people. He said in order for us to have an unshakeable foundation such that we will be able to bear the storms, we must act upon his words. Wouldn’t you say this is the real meat of the parable? Think of it this way. Jesus was a carpenter so let’s pretend we all attend his seminar on building a sturdy home. He tells us all about the foundation and building upon rock instead of sand. We all diligently take notes on every word he says. Then we go home. Some people take the notes and file them away. Some people leave them right on their dining room table for weeks where they see them frequently but eventually, the notes get lost or discarded. Then there are the few. Those few actually take every piece of instructive advice Jesus gave at the seminar and apply them. They build according to all Jesus has said. These people end up with an unshakeable house and unshakeable faith while the rest of us wonder what makes them so special and why this works for them but not for us. Didn’t we all hear the same Word?

Jesus has given us the wisdom of the Kingdom but in order for it to work in our lives, we must apply it. He is not going to build the house for us, he is not going to force us to use his wisdom. He gives freely but he will not take away our choices. He has pointed out the way. He has lit the path. Let’s learn how to take his teachings and turn them into application rather than theology. This is the way of the wise.

Storm Preparedness

Luke 6: 49

But the one who has heard, and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house upon the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed and the ruin of that house was great.

Jesus was imploring his followers to not only listen to His words but also to act upon them. He tells us that by listening and acting upon his words, we build a strong foundation for our lives; a foundation so strong, in fact, that it can withstand all of the storms of life. Those who don’t listen at all and even those who listen but never put Jesus’ words to work in their lives will experience great ruin when the storm comes. What words is Jesus specifically talking about? The first is his commandment to love. We are also taught to be merciful and to forgive, to plant seeds. All we need do is read all of the type which is in red in the New Testament and we will have a great synthesis of the actions that should be evident in our lives. Jesus teaches us how we should behave. His teaching is designed to help us withstand the storms. In other words, it is for our own good that he teaches the things he does. He is not trying to take anything away from us. He is trying to give us life and that more abundantly.