Spiritually Sound Foundations
Jesus is master Rabbi, and his teaching to the crowds, the disciples and to the religious leaders had divine authority, which had everything to do with “being and doing” the will of the Father.
"Do as I say and not as I do” however is how we try to teach life lessons to those around us. I first heard that saying from my parents as they told my siblings and I not to take up smoking. The irony is that they could say this with a cigarette lit in their hand. The value my parents tried to instil was ineffective because they didn’t believe it themselves. For instruction to truly be effective, teaching must be in word and deed, and many parents, teachers and preachers have fallen short in this regard. Jesus used parables to prophetically confront the un-Godly, and one parable he used to confront un-Godly thoughts and action is the parable of the wise and foolish builder.
Read Luke 6:46-49
The wise builder digs foundations deep enough that the house he builds will withstand torrential weather. The foolish builder doesn’t put the effort into unseen foundations and although his building will stand in good weather, any breath of a storm will topple the structure. The allegory is about your and my spiritual life. It is about wise and foolish ways to be at one with God, and the ability to follow Jesus through easy and tough situations. Have you ever seen or dug foundations to a house? Structural soundness is dependent on the composition of the cement, the width and depth of the foundations, the interlocking structures. A building's safety depends on it’s unseen foundations. The same is true for our spiritual life. We are safe when our unseen spiritual foundations are composed of strong Godly principles, spread wide and deep throughout all areas of our lives. Have we used the spiritual principles of our faith so our foundations will stand the test of time? Are our spiritual muscles sore from digging foundational truths in our lives? If yes, Halleluiah! Because it is with great intention that we lay deep and sound foundations to find ourselves with God in God’s Kingdom, both now and forever.
Like Luke in his sermon on the Plains, Matthew also uses this parable to emphasis Jesus’s message of “being and doing”. ‘Practice what you preach’ is the message from Jesus, and as usual he is directing his wrath at the doing of the religious leaders. Read Matthew 7:7:13-29. If you can I suggest reading from the Message, Eugene Peterson’s direct and no-nonsense version which gets straight to the point for todays context.
This is the conclusion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Jesus’ ministry was to those who were committed to following Him as well as to the crowds who gathered to hear what this man with authority had to say. Jesus discussed topical issues: God’s prominence in a person’s life, the importance of hospitality, generosity and right living; the temptations of murder, anger, adultery, divorce, prostitution and pornography; the significance of forgiveness, and keeping one’s word. Matthew 6 expounds on the inner and outer transformation of disciples lives so that they do not pretend to be something they are not. That who disciples truly are reveals a transformational relationship with a living God. The passage we read today is about the importance of “Being and Doing”. Being a Christ follower who realises that we can do nothing without Jesus. Being involves a change in the inner depths of our souls. Where a heart of flesh replaces a heart of stone.
The cement of our spiritual foundations is the combination of the fruits of the Spirit (being) with the mission imperatives of the Kingdom of God (doing). Our being love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, combines with doing justice and righteousness. A cemented foundation with these qualities will stand the test of time to weather all storms.
If the unseen spiritual foundations of a Disciple cannot support the outward signs of a Spiritual Christian life, then be wary. Or as Eugene says: Don’t fall for that stuff Don’t be impressed with Charisma; look for character
Jesus is clear on the next point: Don’t call me Lord, Lord unless being overflows into doing. Doing Godly work , even important Christ-like work, is not enough. Doing with the wrong reasons is like not doing at all. If Jesus' teaching is only ever heard on Sunday or in bible study and does not transform lives, we have missed the boat. For not everyone will enter the kingdom of heaven, but those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven
John Wesley, our Methodist father, had the answer to the next question I can imagine is in our thoughts: How do we know what is the will of the Father who is in heaven? A good question since doing without being is not enough to enter the kingdom of heaven. John Wesley had an embodied theology. The truth he preached and the methods he implemented were born out of the experiences he had with God. This inclusive theology contrasted John Calvin’s theology of pre-election when he maintained that All people need salvation All people can be saved All people can know salvation, and All People can be saved completely. He preached salvation with divine authority. The Wesleyan Hymn says it well: Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine oh what a foretaste of glory divine
Can we know the Blessed Assurance that Jesus is ours? Yes we can says Wesley.
This means that if the reply I never knew you to Lord, Lord in Matthew and Luke’ gospel frightens us, we can once again surrender to Jesus, the Lord of Life. We can ask God what the task of strengthening the foundations of our faith looks like. We can know the assurance of our faith. To strengthen our spiritual foundations, we are invited to intentionally strengthen the practice of the fruits of the Spirit. (Gal. 5) alongside Kingdom mission principles of justice and righteousness.
If we truly believe the teachings of Jesus, we will become the teachings in our daily lives. Then, when the world sees us, it will see also the very presence of the kingdom of God here on earth. Difficult and near impossible, we say? How could we assume something so profoundly filled with divine authority could be anything less?
The crowds marveled at the teachings of Jesus. He had authority they had never seen before. They gathered in, clamoring to witness the next miracle or hear the next teaching. May our lives be filled with divine authority. May our transformed lives be testimony that our God lives and that He is on the throne forevermore. May we be the teaching that gathers others to Jesus. May our lives boldly display the unseen foundations of being and doing necessary to wholeheartedly follow Jesus into eternity. Amen