Today: Monday, December 09, 2019

A story of a beach house?    (3/22/2009 )

A house built on sandJesus said many things, but he knew his words could only do any good if (a) we heard them and then (b) acted on them. Famously he compares people who act on his words to someone who builds a house on rock, and those who don’t act on them he likens to someone who builds a house on sand (Luke [NT] chapter 6, verses 46-49).  

According to tradition, Jesus himself was in the building trade, and of course he’s telling a joke: whoever would build a house without proper foundations? At a distance of two thousand years it might not raise much of a laugh now, but like all good jokes it has at least one serious point, and like the other sayings and parables of Jesus, it has many applications to our lives.  

Let’s stick to just three:

  • Jesus may well have been thinking of those fellow Jews who were listening to his words of peace, but continuing to think they could save Israel by unleashing their violent hatred on the Roman occupiers of their land.

    This was never going to work, and ironically, it was going to be Jesus’ self-sacrificial life and innocent death that was going to bring about the liberation everyone was really hoping for.  

    There is always the temptation to try to solve our problems in a quick and even violent fashion, rather than waiting and trusting in God. This is a risk for all of us at different times and in different ways. We try to compete and to win. Our goals may be good ones, but how much of the good do we lose as we fight our way through?

    God loves us, and promises us all good things, but it is only through death that resurrection comes. We cannot fight our way into heaven.
  • Jesus may also be thinking of how we sometimes rely too much on other people to support us and make sense of our lives.
    This is unfair on them, placing burdens on people just as weak as ourselves, who may let us down. Our ultimate trust should only be placed in God even when other people are so near and God feels absent. Foundations for life need to be deep and reliable. 

    People are a gift from God; we should love and cherish them, but not put them in God’s place. As CS Lewis said, ‘You can do lots of wonderful things with sand... just don’t build houses on it!’
  • Finally, we might listen to the words of Jesus, think them fine and wise, and then go and do absolutely nothing about them. But Jesus didn’t want us to leave it at that. We are surrounded by the mess of the world and the mess of our own lives. Jesus’ words are intended to make a difference to us and our situations. They are intended to produce results.

I’ve nearly finished writing this, and you’ve nearly finished reading it: let’s stop sitting around, listen to what Jesus has to say, and go and put his teachings into practice - now, today.

Pray: Dear Jesus, Help me to hear what you are saying to me, and to live it. Forgive me when I fall short; steady me when I stumble; strengthen me when I stagger; help me to build my life on Jesus the rock; and give me the joy of a life well-lived. Amen.

Reflect: Spend some time in quiet - can you recognise what God may have been saying to you, or felt him prompting inside you? How can you put them into action?  

Seek help: If you are looking for a better way to live, try reading the beatitudes (Matthew [NT] chapter 5, verses 3-10) quietly and prayerfully. If you are looking for strength, tryPsalm 40.

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