“On the Rock and Of the Rock”
The Wise and Foolish Builders
When I think of a building, I think of it as something not quickly accomplished. This is also true of the work of a lifetime–a lifetime of obedience and faith. I usually think of this parable as referring to the sum of one’s whole life; whether someone has lived it wisely, as a disciple of Christ. It is something I readily see the wisdom of and want to attain…but it is beyond my power to live a lifetime without the failure of sin, and this causes me to wonder if I can really ever achieve this. I worry that I will end up as the foolish man with the house on the sand.
A Foundation Paul speaks of the work of his life spreading the Gospel: “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 3:10-11) Again, Christ is the foundation, but he reminds me that it is only though Grace that we can build on this foundation.
The Living Stone and a Chosen People 1 Peter 2:4-6: Christ is the living stone, a cornerstone, which, in a building, is right on top of a foundation stone. And like him, we are to be living stones, offering our lives as spiritual sacrifices to God. And what is my living, spiritual sacrifice? It is each moment of my life, lived in pursuit of him, and in obedience to him.
I thought at this point of limestone. It is a building stone, made of millions of tiny shells. But if you just took a heap of those shells, you couldn’t build anything. You would just have a big, slippery pile of gravel. They have to undergo change through heat and pressure, deep in the earth, in order to metamorphose into a true stone.
And if I think of my life as a series of millions of moments, I can see a parallel. Each moment, as I try to live in God’s will, to become Christ-like, is like one of those tiny shells. Taken separately, they are just a pile of intentions and feeble attempts. When I live those moments in obedience, and God’s grace is added, they metamorphose into a living stone, my living sacrifice. I’m not trying to say “do a good deed = get a shell.” It’s a way for me to break down “building a house” into a manageable scale. The foundation of my efforts is Christ, my rock. He provides me with the Grace to make those spiritual sacrifices–to pursue him, to delight in his law, and to be obedient to him, in each moment of my day. When I fail, I don’t lose the whole building; I start with the next moment and turn back to Christ and keep adding, moment by moment, to the living cornerstone that he wants me to be.