Building a Solid Foundation
What do you do when everything around you is falling to pieces?
Some have reacted with fear and even panic at the threat of COVID19. Others have not been upset at all. Some are predicting doom, gloom, economic collapse and full hospitals. Others are focused on the opportunities that are being created.
The question that came to my mind was: “What do we do when the foundations of the world around us crumble?”
Jesus uses house foundations to illustrate the importance of what we base our lives on. We find an account of this illustration in Luke 6:46-49. Matthew gives his account of this same illustration in Matthew 7:24-27
In Luke’s account, Jesus starts with a question. He says, “Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46 ESV)
I want to begin by considering the impact of a “why” question in relationships.
If we see a person tying a hook on a string, we might ask, “Why are you doing that?” And we would get an explanation something like, “I have found it to be a help in catching fish.” In this case, “Why” is a helpful question. In this case, “Why” leads to learning.
However, if you ask a question like, “Why don’t you tell the truth,” you will get a much different response.
The person might respond, “What do you mean, ‘Why don’t I tell the truth?’” “Are you calling me a liar?” Or, they just might respond by giving you a good, solid punch on the nose. The problem with “why” in this situation is that it implies or assumes that your counterpart is not telling the truth.
Imagine yourself meeting a friend in the grocery store, and that friend asks you, “Why do you lie?” They are serious and this question seems to come out of nowhere. What would you say? “What are you talking about?” “How have I lied to you?” The question treats you lying as a fact.
Most often when we ask a why question in relationships, we invite defensiveness from our counterpart. Often it is better to start with “what.” “What is going on?” or “What is happening right now?” invite explanation without the pressure of “why.”
Let’s look at the account Luke gives of the illustration Jesus uses.
Luke 6:17 tells us:
And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, (Luke 6:17 ESV)
Luke is setting the scene for His account of the Sermon on the Mount. In this setting, we see two elements to the huge crowd gathered before Jesus. One element is His disciples and the other element is a multitude of people. As Luke continues to set the scene for us, He says in verse 20, “And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples and said…” With this statement Luke establishes the fact that Jesus is talking to His disciples and the multitude is listening in, a kind of “eavesdropping.”
So, in Luke 6:46, when Jesus says, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” His question is directed at His disciples. “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” This question assumes that those who were calling Him Lord were not doing what He told them, and in as much as this question is directed toward us, it assumes that we are not doing what He tells us.
Why DO we call Him Lord, if we are not going to do what He says? Be careful! Our instinctive response is to be defensive. “What do you mean we are not doing what He says?”
As much as I don’t want to offend you or make you feel defensive, I must point out that Jesus is asking each of us this question. Imagine yourself sitting on that mountain as Jesus catches your eye and says;
Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?
What would you say? What would I say?
This question falls on me with bone crushing weight. But in the words that follow, Jesus gives encouragement. He is not looking to crush us with the weight of our guilt, rather He is encouraging us with the surpassingly great value of doing what He says. In the words that follow His question, Jesus speaks of the value of doing what He says and the cost of not doing what He says. He illustrates both the value of heeding the word of the Lord and the cost of ignoring the word of the Lord.
First, let’s consider who reaps the benefits. Luke 6:47 says:
Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like... (Luke 6:47 ESV)
Notice that Jesus tells us three things about this person.
- He comes
- He hears
- He does
Coming to Jesus is the first thing that we must do if we would have eternal life, a relationship with God and a solid foundation. Many do not and cannot have a solid foundation because they have never taken this first step. Jesus has invited everyone and anyone to come. He says:
...whoever comes to me I will never cast out. (John 6:37 ESV)
And in another place He says:
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 ESV)
Please, please accept His invitation. He will forgive all your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. He will give you eternal life and free access to God the Father. He will send His Holy Spirit to live within you and give you life. What more do you want when He will give you everything you need pertaining to life and godliness?
For everyone who has taken this first step, I have a question. “Do we come to Jesus just once and are done?”
As far as salvation is concerned, the answer is yes, absolutely. However, as far as our daily lives are concerned, the answer is we must come to Him daily for our sustenance. This could also be stated in terms of following Him, and is also part of the second thing the person reaps as a benefit of doing what He says.
The second thing about this person is “he hears.”
Hearing takes place before faith because as we learn from Romans 9:17, “... faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
However, hearing does not stop once we ask Jesus to be our Savior.
Think of Jesus’ disciples. In Luke 6:17, we read that Jesus was followed by a great crowd of His disciples. A disciple is a student or a learner. This implies hearing and listening to what the teacher says. Mark 3:14 tells us, “And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach.” (Mark 3:14 ESV) These Apostles are how we received our New Testament. They heard from Jesus and preached His words, recorded His words and passed them down to us. Notice that Mark says Jesus appointed them so that they might be with him. Being with the teacher is the key to discipleship. We are all familiar with the classroom setting for teacher/student relationships. Internships and apprenticeships are closer to what discipleship is. The closer a disciple stays to the teacher the more he or she becomes like the teacher. This is hearing.
Hearing is followed by doing. The third thing about the person who reaps the benefits is “he does.” My explanation of the person who does not reap the benefits will be very brief, because this is the only difference that Jesus points out. In His illustration, Jesus says:
“But the one who hears and does not do them...” (Luke 6:49 ESV)
The hearing, and therefore I assume, the coming, are the same. It is at the point of doing that the paths diverge.
The difference between the one who does and the one who does not is severe.
Of the person who does what He says, Jesus said:
...he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. (Luke 6:48 ESV)
The storms of life are likened to a flood that breaks against a house, but this person is unshakeable. Psalm 42:1-2 records the thoughts of this person:
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea... (Psalm 46:1-2 ESV)
The value then of doing what the Lord says is an unshakeable life, confidence, a solid “house,” plus all the treasures of heaven.
However, of the person who does not do what He says, Jesus said:
But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great. (Luke 6:49 ESV)
The cost of not doing what He says is great. The person who does not do what Jesus says loses everything he or she has built. This person escapes with their life, but everything else is lost. This is who the Apostle was talking about when he said:
If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:15 ESV)
What do we do when the foundations of the world around us are crumbling? We turn to the Rock. We take refuge in God because we trust Him.
The question remains, “What does doing look like?” Jesus’ question assumes we are not doing what He says. Jesus did not say this to condemn us, but rather to encourage us to listen and to put into practice what we hear. As far as our failures are concerned, 1 John 1:8-9 says:
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9 ESV)
What does doing look like? Actually, it will flow from our hearing. Jesus said He did not do anything but what He had seen His Father doing. (John 5:19) Our life and our foundation comes out of living in the presence of God. Galatians 5:16 puts it like this:
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16 ESV)
Another place to read up on this is Romans 8. We are not talking about obeying rules. There are two great commands that sum up all the rules.
- Love God
- Love your neighbor
That is it for rules. Remember, Abraham believed God and it was counted unto Him as righteousness. Believe God. Trust in God. Walk by the Spirit. Live in the presence of God whose dwelling is within you, and you will not be shaken.
Our rock, our foundation is Christ. If our life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3), what have we to fear, even if the mountains crumble into the sea?
For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21)