Summary: No foundation other than Christ will survive the storms of life and the coming judgement of God.
This morning, we continue our journey through the parables of Christ, and in light of the weather we’ve been having lately, I thought it would be appropriate to consider one that has to do with rain.
"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. Many will say to me on that day, ’Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ’I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash." – Matthew 7:21-27
Here Jesus is speaking of the absolute necessity of building your life on the right kind of foundation. Because the foundation is what holds everything up, it’s what holds everything together. No matter what quality of materials you use; no matter how carefully you join the frame together; no matter how skilled your craftsmen may be – if the foundation isn’t solid and stable, your “house” will lack integrity. Over time, cracks will develop in the walls. The windows will stick. The roof will leak. And sooner or later, the storms of life will bring it crashing down, and everything you’ve worked so hard to build will be lost.
This past December, the “Leaning Tower of Pisa” was finally reopened to the public, after having been closed for almost a dozen years. During that time, engineers completed a 25 million dollar renovation project designed to stabilize the tower. They removed 110 tons of dirt, and reduced its famous lean by about sixteen inches. Why was this necessary? Because the tower has been tilting further and further away from vertical for hundreds of years, to the point that the top of the 185-foot tower was seventeen feet further south than the bottom, and Italian authorities were concerned that if nothing was done, it would soon collapse. What was the problem? Bad design? Poor workmanship? An inferior grade of marble? No. The problem was what was underneath. The sandy soil on which the city of Pisa was built was just not stable enough to support a monument of this size. The tower had no firm foundation.
In order for you and I to avoid that problem, I’d like to look more closely at the main characters in the parable. First of all, note that there are only two builders in the story; only two alternatives. When it comes to matters of ultimate truth, there are really only two options. You’re either trusting in Christ, obeying his commands, following his example – or you’re not. One way leads to life and salvation, the other leads to death and eternal destruction. Now, the world would have you believe otherwise. The world says you have a myriad of choices; that there are many ways of being a spiritual person – Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Mormonism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Native American spirituality, Wicca, etc, etc. In our culture, people tend to follow a “buffet” approach to religion, picking and choosing elements from various traditions which they find personally meaningful. But God doesn’t see it that way. According to the Bible, there aren’t many ways, all of them more or less equally valid and equally beneficial. According to the Bible, there are only two ways – Christ and everything else. One way leads to life; the other leads to death.
Does that mean there is no value at all in other systems of belief? No, not at all. Most of the various religions and philosophies in the world contain at least a kernel of truth. The problem is that the kernels of truth are mixed in with a great deal of falsehood. Sometimes that falsehood is obvious and easy to discern, and sometimes it’s not. But regardless, every other approach to life will eventually lead you astray. It will betray you, make a fool of you, destroy you. Because every other approach to life will lead you away from Christ and away from the truth. And not only that; not only are other religions and non-Christian philosophies unreliable, they’re also unnecessary. We don’t need them.