“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 7:24-27 (NIV)
A year ago, I sat with my wife and another couple watching the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers play their homecoming game, while overhead, the first wispy clouds of Sandy began to filter the sunlight streaming into the stadium. Everyone knew the storm was out there. I wonder how many really understood what was about to befall them. The Knights lost that game, but surely some of the spectators were just days away from a far more bitter homecoming – to the ruins of houses that literally had been built on sand.
The parable of the wise and foolish builders has at least a couple of layers of meaning, one of which is: Put your faith in the right Person, build your life on the Rock, and you will weather the storms of life better than someone who trusts in the wrong people or things, or only in the self. But God has pointed me lately to transitions in the Bible that start with “therefore” or “so,” and this is another of those passages. Here’s what came before it:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one 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 in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23 NIV)
Jesus was talking about “that day,” which usually is taken to mean the Day of the Lord or Judgment Day. So the storm that beats on the two builders’ houses is much more than illness or loss or adversity. It makes Sandy look like a summer squall. You won’t ride this one out with your generator, beans and toilet paper. It’s the coming storm of God’s judgment on the Earth, and it will blow away everything in our lives that isn’t built on God.
For those who have built on wealth, power, privilege, earthly relationships, even good deeds and clean living apart from God, truly everything will be lost. But those whose bedrock is Jesus – His dying for their sins and His rising from the dead – there will be a joyous homecoming to a room in the Father’s house, where the warranty is good for eternity (John 14:2). It won’t matter to them what they lost on Earth, because even their earthly gains will look like losses next to what the Father and Son have prepared (Philippians 3:8). I hope that you have that homecoming in your future.