I woke up this morning stirred to write about the importance of foundations. So often many of the people I know have been sidetracked in their lives because their lives were built on the wrong foundations. Those with any kind of construction experience know that if a foundation is slightly off, the whole building built on top of it will suffer. The problem is so often we want a building so badly that we neglect building foundations in our lives the right way.
Several weeks ago I was talking to a co-worker about a house her family owned at a beach. It was built on firm ground and had weathered several storms well. There were other people who had wanted a house so close to the beach that they had built their houses on sand. These houses had significant storm damage that had totally ruined these houses. I looked at her and said, “Have none of these people read Jesus’ parable of the wise and foolish builder?” Apparently, they had not.
Jesus told this story:
Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.
One of the things that has been revolutionary in my life and the lives of others I know is really applying this simple story to our lives. We in the West spend a ton of time teaching people what to believe about God, Jesus, and Christianity. But according to that story, none of that is building our lives on the solid rock. Instead, building our lives on a solid foundation means listening to Jesus’ teaching and doing what it says. The foolish man isn’t someone who resisted the teachings of Jesus, but he is someone who heard and didn’t put into practice what Jesus said.
And while obeying all of Jesus’ teaching is important, this teaching ends a famous set of teachings by Jesus that we call the Sermon on the Mount. This parable is meant to emphasize the importance of practicing the teachings Jesus gives in Matthew 5, 6, and 7. So often we will spend time in our house churches and discipleship groups reading the Sermon on the Mount and talking about how we can build our lives obeying these truths. The disciples that have done so are the ones who have stood the test of time.
The promise of Jesus is that there will be storms that come. Some of them are the general storms of life, testing and trials that are common to every era of history. Some storms are the storms of persecution, which Peter promises that everyone who lives a godly life will endure. There will also be eschatological, end-time storms that come and test the foundations of individuals and the church. Regardless of which storms we encounter, it is by obeying the truths found in the Sermon on the Mount by relying on the power of the Holy Spirit that we stand strong in the hour of testing.
But the time to build the foundation is not in the storm. The time to build a strong foundation is now. It will be too late to begin to obey Jesus’ teaching in the midst of the storm. Are you reading AND obeying Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5, 6, & 7? If not, it’s not too late to go back and begin to put into practice the things Jesus taught there. If you are living out those truths, start thinking about how to train others that you are bringing to Christ and raising up to obey these truths.
The future you and those you disciple will thank you.
“…the restoration of the church will surely come only from a new type of monasticism which has nothing in common with the old but a complete lack of compromise in a life lived in accordance with the Sermon on the Mount in the discipleship of Christ. I think it is time to gather people together to do this…”
Extract of a letter written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer to his brother Karl-Friedrick on the 14th of January, 1935. (Source: John Skinner, Northumbria Community).