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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Life-Giving Stories – Wise and Foolish Builders

            A few years ago I was standing in line at the hardware store (aka – adult male candy store) and I overheard a couple of guys talking about their houses.  One of them was doing some major remodeling which required him to take a look at the foundation.  This was one of the older houses of our community and when he uncovered the foundation, what he found was it consisted of a big rock at each corner!  No wonder he was having structural problems in his house!
            If you have ever traveled in a third-world country or in an area where there is extreme poverty, you can see some pretty amazing construction methods and wonder how they ever stay up.
            The Gospel of Matthew records an extended account of the teachings of Jesus that is commonly referred to as The Sermon on the Mount.  It starts in chapter 5 and Jesus lays out for his hearers what a Kingdom of God minded person does.  He teaches about multiple contrasts in behavior between a person who follows him and a person who doesn’t follow him.  This wouldn’t have been new kind of teaching for the Jewish people listening to Jesus.  The religious teachers of the day regularly interpreted the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament) and taught people how they were to live.  But when Jesus finished his teaching, it said the crowd was amazed because “he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.”  (Matthew 7:28-29)  Jesus taught the people like, well, like God!  He had authority and he was saying if you want to live a life pleasing to God, live THIS way and don’t live THAT way.
            At the end of this long section of Jesus’ teaching, he caps it off with his story of the wise builder and the foolish builder. (Matthew 7:24-27)  The wise builder is someone who builds on a solid foundation.  The foolish builder is someone who builds on an unstable foundation.  In his story, the storms of life (that are guaranteed to come) hit both of the construction projects.  One stands firm, the other collapses.
            In Jesus’ story, he likens our lives to the builders and makes it clear that the difference between being wise and foolish is obedience to his teaching.  Jesus wasn’t looking for people to believe him, he was looking for people who believed and followed him.  And following Jesus means living in obedience to what he taught.  If you truly believe something, it will change the way you live.  Jesus knows that and he clearly lays out the measuring rod for faith is how you live.  If you don’t obey Jesus’ teaching, you really don’t have belief and faith in Jesus.  It isn’t about perfection, it is about intention so don’t get hung up on the “am I or am I not saved” not-so-merry-go-round.  Focus on being a follower of Jesus, knowing he will always lead.
            So, how about you?  According to Jesus’ measurement, are you wise or foolish?  There is a storm coming that is going to test your construction methods.  What are you going to do about it?

Peace and grace,

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