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Summary: A life built to last is constructed upon the person of Christ and by means of putting his words into practice.

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The Parable Of The Two Builders

Rev. Philip A. Gunther

Cathedrals & Towers

Dedicated in 1093 AD, making it some 908 years old, Europe’s oldest gothic church stands proudly as a magnificent and massive architectural creation. Situated in the city of Winchester, in the county of Hampshire, in the United Kingdom. Winchester Cathedral is indeed a sight to behold.

In 1905, however, some serious signs of structural weakness appeared in the cathedral – ominous cracks began to develop. Some architectural experts suggested buttresses to prop up the walls, or tie-rods to hold them together. Finally, an expert maintained that the foundation should be probed and so deep shafts were dug to the foundation. There they discovered that the great cathedral had been constructed on a bog. The original builders had laid tree trunks flat on the soft watery soil, and on that had reared their building. The miracle was that the building had stood as long as it had.

In 1906, W.G. Walker in a deep-sea diving suit, began working in water thick and brown digging down through eight feet of peat. He picked the peat out in sections and replaced it with concrete. It took him five and a half years to restore the cathedral’s rotting foundation (Martin, Hugh. The Parables Of The Gospels).

In 1173 AD, architect Bonanno Pisano began a project that was to out live him – in fact, it took two hundred years to complete (1350 AD). Eventually standing 185 feet or eight stories tall, this bell tower or as we have come to know it, the Tower of Pisa, has become famous not so much for its architectural beauty but for it’s eighteen foot lean. The inclination became so much of a concern that it was closed to the public in 1990. Just recently, major restorative work has been done to its weak and failing foundation so that it would not topple over.

This August, the City of Lloydminster, Saskatchewan dismantled it’s three remaining seven-year-old, 100-foot high steel provincial boundary monuments because of safety concerns with their structural integrity. There was a fear that they could collapse at any time. The foundational concrete markers onto which they were fastened had certain defects permitting the monuments to loosen at the base as the wind blew against them.

The Winchester Cathedral, the Bell Tower of Pisa and the Lloydminster boundary monuments were set on poor foundations. The costs of repair on these structures are, I believe, minuscule compared to the consequences of people who build their lives on defective life-foundations, both for this life and the life hereafter.

Whether it is a home, a cathedral, a tower or a life, the type of foundation one has is crucially important. If you want something to last, be it a building or your own life, the type of foundation you rest it upon matters immensely.

My concern is what you have or will have as an anchor for your soul. What foundation will you lay down or have you laid down? To what will you secure your life? Is it or will it be, a foundation of self-achievements and abilities? A foundation of wealth – a good financial portfolio, perhaps? A foundation of fame – a solid reputation in the community? A career foundation – a good resume and all? Perhaps it will be a foundation of ‘good times’ – sex, drugs, wine and song? We all need and have a foundation upon which we construct our lives, what is or will be yours and will it last?

The parable of Jesus we want to hear of this morning invites us to examine the foundation we have chosen to build our lives upon.

Sermon On The Plain

Jesus was at the very end of a lengthy sermon (Luke 6:20-49), some have called it the Sermon on the Plain for the Bible says that, “He went down with [His disciples] and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea....” (Luke 6:17).

The sermon, in essence, reminded listeners of God’s reward in heaven for those who were suffering, mourning, persecuted and poor – this was good news that needed to be proclaimed. It directed them to love their enemies and pray for those who mistreated them – to be merciful. It directed them not to judge and condemn others but rather to forgive them. In it, Jesus reminded them that the constitution of one’s heart determined character and that the quality of one’s speech was the litmus test – “For out of the overflow of [one’s] heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).

God’s promise of heaven which we are to declare, love for one’s enemies, forgiving and not condemning others are in part the “my words” Jesus speaks of in this closing parable of the two builders at the end of His sermon.

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