Living Lessons 3

Parable of the Two Houses

“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” Matthew 7:24-27 NLT

It’s so much more than just another children’s song, but if you’re anything like me, you can’t help but hear that tune when you read this parable...

“The wise man built his house upon the rock...and the rains came a tumbling down. The rains came down and the floods came up...and the house on the rock stood firm.”

“The foolish man built his house upon the sand...and the rains came a tumbling down. The rains came down and the floods came up...and the house on the sand fell flat!”

This parable, given by Jesus, actually comes at the end of one of, if not His most, seminal teaching that we refer to as the Sermon on the Mount. It is His longest recorded sermon, and it is filled with powerful teachings where He expands our understanding of the law, of who God is, and of how we are all called to treat one another.

So let’s not look passed this short story too quickly else we miss the importance of it.
It’s not an overly complicated parable. In these times, and in the region where Jesus taught, people had to dig down past the soil to get to the bedrock if they wanted to build a house that would survive the forces of nature. However, at different times of the year, it would have been tempting to build on top of the soil because it would have given the illusion that it was hard and safe. But when the first rains came, and the ground softened, the moisture would continue it’s way up to the houses foundation, seep into the mortar between the bricks which was made of mud anyway, and soon the structure would fall.

We have built many things in our society that we thought were indestructible. What comes to mind most recently, as I’m writing this in the month of September, are the World Trade Center towers in New York City, prior to that fateful day of September 11, 2001.

The twin towers were just over a whopping 1300 feet tall each, with 110 stories, providing space for more than 35,000 people in over 400 businesses to work. The foundation of the twin towers was 70’ below ground level, on the bedrock. For almost 30 years, these towers stood as a testament to creativity, ingenuity, and the power of capitalism.

But on September 11, 2001, two hijacked planes crashed into the upper floors of these buildings, and within 2 hours, both buildings had collapsed.

In the spring of 2019, I had the incredible honor of standing beside the memorial pool, located where the twin towers once stood, to pay tribute to the 2,753 lives that were taken that day. It’s a humbling experience to watch the water cascade down the side walls where the foundation of these ginormous buildings once stood.

So obviously, when Jesus talked about building on the rock, he wasn’t just speaking literal. Even the best laid plans of man can still falter, as they did with the Twin Towers.
In this parable, Jesus was illustrating that our lives must be grounded in something that can never be destroyed, not by nature or evil. Something that would give you a firm enough of a foundation that when those things come, which they inevitably do, you can still stand.
This doesn’t mean you’re never shaken. Questions of faith and belief come, and are actually important in the journey towards owning your faith. But when you continue to come back to your foundation, the chief cornerstone, Jesus Christ, you can weather those storms and come out on the other side of them even stronger and more secure in Him than ever before.

Maybe that’s why for Paul, amidst all the struggles of the growing young movement of Jesus followers, would exclaim things like, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20 ESV) And, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2 NIV)

Paul was consumed with Christ, and that obsession carried him through persecution, prison bars, sinking ships, and so much more. This is why our mission statement at the One project is, “Jesus. All.” When Jesus is our everything, the storms will come and go, and we’ll be able to still stand while we cling to Him.

By Paddy McCoy

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