“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 came 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. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
(Matthew 7:24-27 NIV)
Today we wrap up our study of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus turns to an illustration, a word picture, to finish His sermon. Jesus pulls from his trade background of a carpenter / builder to make his final point.
And what is that final point? Check the foundation of your life – is it on sand, or on rock?
And how do we check our foundation? What criteria do we use?
Verses 24 and 26 give us the answer: Listening and obeying.
Looking back, Jesus had some hard words in this sermon. His words were not to be taken lightly. They went against the grain of their society, and ours. Jesus’ words require a lot of faith in God’s overall plan in a crazy, mixed-up world.
Jesus said we must come to God in humility and brokenness, and admit our spiritual poverty. Just the opposite of the self-righteous, selfish, judgmental society in which Jesus’ disciples (and we) live.
Jesus said we must watch our speech, and even our thoughts, as God sees all. All this in a society that measures only the external, while living as hypocrites to fit in.
Jesus said we must be His ambassadors, as salt and light to a broken and hurting world. And the world will not welcome our presence, nor our message, and we will suffer persecution for it.
Jesus calls us to live in community, not to live separate, isolationist lives. Yet while living in community, we must live our lives counter-culturally, and often go against “conventional wisdom” of the day when we listen and follow Him.
Throughout His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus connected right belief with right practice, the attitude of the heart with the actions of the hands and feet. The starting point is our attitude toward God, ourselves, and others. The journey is the actions we take in reference to our attitude and beliefs. Jesus refers to our actions as the “fruit” of our beliefs – to know the true attitude of our hearts and minds.
Jesus commands us to live out His new righteousness, but to do so for an audience of One, not for the those around us. Other practical examples included our giving, praying, and fasting. Further examples of living out what we believe include where we put our treasure, where we spend our mental energy, and how we see and interact with others.
The bad news? it’s impossible to do this on our own.
The good news? Jesus never intended us to be on our own, but to live in connection to Him. Jesus promised to never leave us or forsake us, a promise that still holds true today.
And thus, the first steps of today, the journey for the rest of our lives begins now.
What do we believe? And how will we take action on those beliefs today? Are we building on the Rock, or on sand?