Hey, the parable of the builders: foundation of rock or sand. (Already you can hear the children’s song in your head.)
“Why do you call me “Lord, Lord,” but don’t do what I say?” Ah, the bane of the church—the false profession of too many who live hypocritical lives. How many people have been turned away from the church by Christians who just don’t care that much?
Here’s a fun poem by Shel Silverstein: “Zebra Question.”
I asked the zebra,
Are you black with white stripes?
Or white with black stripes?
And the zebra asked me,
Are you good with bad habits?
Or are you bad with good habits?
Are you noisy with quiet times?
Or are you quiet with noisy times?
Are you happy with some sad days?
Or are you sad with some happy days?
Are you neat with some sloppy ways?
Or are you sloppy with some neat ways?
And on and on and on and on
And on and on he went.
I’ll never ask a zebra
Falseness can be very difficult to detect. A person’s lifestyle is the true detector of his faith and sincerity. Doing is most important. And, of course, that makes sense. It’s not the people who claim to belong who really do, but, duh, those who only truly belong. But Jesus was not speaking here to irreligious people, atheists, or agnostics. He was not speaking to pagans or heretics. He was speaking to devoutly religious people who were deluded into thinking they were on the narrow road that leads to heaven when they were actually on the broad road that leads to hell. According to Jesus, one day not just a few, but many will be shocked—eternally shocked—to find that they were not in the kingdom of God after all.
The danger of spiritual deception is real.
V. 47 tells us what makes it real: (1) “comes to me” (makes a choice to approach the Lord), (2) “hears” (shows attentive interest and receives what is said, (3) puts it into practice (translates knowledge to action, in other words: becomes so convinced that they make honest and true changes. It’s not easy to make changes, especially true changes that stick. This is talking about lifechange and new ways of thinking, with the power to do it.
Now comes the famous story of the man who built his house upon the rock. SOOOO interesting that it’s part of this teaching. The people who are doing it right have dug down, digging for what is worth it, not lazy, but going deep enough. They didn’t settle just for anything, but found the rock. And they didn’t just build, but laid a foundation. The torrent came. Torrents hit good people, as we’ve discussed before. You WILL get pounded. But the “house” will not fail. Lots of things fail: budgets, the military, success, the economy, education, love, and parents, to name a few. Lots of things you trust in will let you down. But this house would not shake, because it was well built. Every part of it was done right. Attention to detail. Thoroughness. Using the right materials on a good foundation. This is the person who truly belongs to God, not just the guy who says so.
Then we’ve got the guy on the sand. The materials and workmanship count, and they are good—probably the same as the other guy—but without a good foundation there’s a fatal weakness, though hidden. The difference: he didn’t put it into practice. It’s not the knowledge that helps you stand against the storm, but knowing what to do with it.
Weird that the difference is how you live it out. Lots of people say they believe. Lots of people claim Christ, Christianity, and salvation. I guess the proof is in the pudding.