Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain cam down, the streams rose and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

~ Matthew 7:24-25

My small group has been studying the Sermon on the Mount for the last couple of months. Last night we got to the "Wise and the Foolish Builder" section. It's something that I've heard over and over since I was a kid, but had never studied in the context of the whole Sermon on the Mount.

There were a bunch of things that stood out to me.

I had always heard it as "if you're a Christian, you're building your house on the rock, if you're not, you're building your house on the sand". I don't think it's that simple. Why? The passage doesn't say "everyone who hears these words of mine and believes them....", it say "everyone who heard these words of mine and puts them into practice". Is it possible to be a Christian and not put the Sermon on the Mount into practice? I think this comes down to Dallas Willard's discussion of becoming a disciple of Christ. This putting in to practice is an active thing - a learning from the teacher and then living it out. Myth #1 destroyed.

Maybe it's myth #2 or maybe it's just the logical conclusion to myth #1, but I now believe that it's entirely possible to be a Christian and building your house on the sand. Throughout the Sermon on the Mount Jesus isn't addressing the perils of a hedonistic pagan lifestyle, He's addressing the perils of a life built on religion. Building a house on sand can be as easily building a life on religion as it is on the partying lifestyle I learned growing up. (clarification - I learned that the partying lifestyle was building my house on the sand, not that I learned the partying lifestyle growing up - stop hyperventilating Mom)

The second new perspective I had on this passage was that this time I'm reading it from the middle of a storm. Looking at how your foundation is built is one thing during the clear days, but in the middle of the storm you have to rely on what you've already built and hang on for dear life.

My storm started a couple of weeks ago. Every time I think things are easing up I get hit again with something new. From the middle of this storm all I can see is the storm raging around me. I simply can't check the foundation, let alone continuing to build.

From where I'm standing now, it's feeling a lot like things are ready to crash down at any moment. I don't know if this is a product of a shaky foundation, or if this is how it's always going to feel during any storm and it's hindsight that shows how strong the foundation is. At this point do I just have faith in my foundation and weather the storm?

It's an interesting new way to look at this passage. Is it a challenge? Is it a promise? Can it be both?

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