Patricia Goldman, the vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, tells a story about a stewardess who, frustrated by passenger inattentiveness during her what-to-do-in-an-emergency talk at the beginning of each flight, changed the wording and said, “When the mask drops down in front of you, place it over your navel and continue to breathe normally.” Not a single passenger noticed.
Our parable today comes at the end of Jesus famous Sermon on the Mount. Jesus had taught a huge multitude. They had listened with sincerity, amazement, great interest and even gladness. What Jesus tells them is that it is not enough to listen. Even if you listen with appreciation and with emotions deeply stirred. If our listening is to be of any worth, it must lead to action. This same parable is told in Matthew and this is how Jesus introduces it. He says in Matt 7:21, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (NIV)
Notice the emphasis: Not everyone who says.. but only he who does.
Not merely listening but doing. When Jesus says, “you must be born again” He is speaking of spiritual rebirth, this is not merely idealism. It must be done.
This poem summarizes this truth well:
It is not what we eat but what we digest that makes us strong;
not what we gain but what we save that make us rich;
not what we read but what we remember that makes us learned;
and not what we profess but what we practice that makes us Christians.
Tony Campollo-“We have a lot of believers in Churches. Big Deal the Devil believes but he is not a disciple. We need disciples!”
Here’s our parable: Luke 6:46-49
46“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?
47 I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice.
48He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.
49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” (NIV)
I’m Building My Life
The first fact Jesus brings home to our hearts in this story is that all who hear are builders. There are wise builders and foolish builders. Notice that Jesus regularly divides people into two groups: those who build correctly and those who don’t. Those people who travel the wide road and those who travel the narrow road. Those people who are spiritually alive and those who are spiritually dead. What could be more important? We make all kinds of differentiations: races, socioeconomic status, political parties and the list goes on! In the end Jesus reminds us that there are two kinds of people: Heaven bound or hell bound.
- Am I a Wise Builder?
The wise man is a builder. He is constructing something. He is constructing an eternal dwelling based on his life experiences. He is building a soul home.
- Am I a Foolish Builder?
The same is true for the foolish man. He too is building. He is constructing the hovel or hut or the sty in which he is to not only spend on earth but in eternity. I may have stock in Dell or Disney but more importantly do I have stock in heaven?
We are building in all that we do. We are building by every thought that we think. Every word that we speak, every plan we make every ambition we cherish. All of these go to make the material that enters into the structure we are building.
Some of us know better but are putting shoddy stuff into our buildings anyway, materials that will not stand the test of the storm. The lies we tell and then try to justify them. The borrowing of something that is not ours and planning not to return is really called stealing. The crude stories, or negative remarks or criticism we passed off a joke; acting concerned while receiving information, but intending to gossip or the taking of God’s name in vain. I saw in a magazine that they are selling this shirt that says God’s last name isn’t damn-it. When we know you should give 10% of your income but don’t. Those times when we should have spoken up when but remained silent. The time we clutched your money when there is a pressing need. The time when ignored someone that needed you. The fact that we call ourselves Christ’s followers but will not stand up when it time to for God’s people to serve.
This is the stuff that gets pastors and teachers in trouble. We don’t want to hear it. “Tell me about God’s love and grace not my problems!” Some of us need to tear down our cardboard box dwellings and build on the rock of Christ Jesus.
What I am Building Will Be Tested
The buildings will be tested. We are not to build for fair weather only. We must build with a view to the times of crises. We must build to weather the storms. For sooner later TO ALL the testing comes. Upon everyone storm will break.
Dr. James Dobson tells of a river rafting experience on the Rogue River in Oregon. He says at one point in the ride that they came to the most treacherous part of the river where the water was white, wild and swift in the middle was an area called the coffee pot because it bubbled and was known to suck under rafts, boats and people. Several had died there. He tells of his experience of his boat capsizing and him nearly drowning. It was the scariest time of his life. He says life is like that river ride. There are long stretches where the water is calm and beautiful. You can see your reflection if you lean over the raft. The scenery is gorgeous, the river peaceful. You don’t know if life could ever be better. Then without much warning you can be propelled into white water. Thrown overboard, then your sucked under grasping for air, struggling to keep your head above the water and survive. At the time when you think it is the worst, then you hit the white water no mercy. Please understand this will happen sooner or later. No one travels down the river of life without some turbulence. You might as well be ready.
That is why it is necessary to be stabilized before the crises arrive. This is where it comes out if you built wisely or foolishly. The building of the foolish man will be tested. The building of the wise man will be tested. The storms of life hit him too. God never promised the exemption from conflict, but his presence through it. He doesn’t allow us to dodge the storm or the raging river and have an easy time but to face the storm and turbulence. To all the storm and turbulence will come.
The ship that is constructed to sail only upon the glassy sea under blue skies will not do in the ocean like ours where the heavens so often become black, thunder pounds, lightning flashes and where the sea is whipped by the winds and the waves swell and crash.
Our bridges are built to sustain more than their own weight. They must stand heavy loads. Buildings too must be built to weather the storms. I read of snow storm in Washington where snow fell for more than 36 hours. The snow lay deep upon the ground and upon the roofs of houses. There was theater there, that was a building of beauty, but the architect had only sunny days in mind and the strain of the 30 inches of snow caused the roof to crash and more than 100 lives were lost.
Christ tells us frankly that the test is coming. The storms are coming. For some you have already experienced some storms and if you weren’t built upon the rock of Jesus you wonder how you would have made it. Others of you have seen your lives or others’ lives crash in ruins. Or maybe you haven’t experienced many storms yet. You will. We must be ready by building our lives upon the truth of Jesus Christ and His word.
Will you join me in building upon Christ?