This morning’s New Testament reading from Morning prayer comes from Luke 6. The foolish man who builds his house on sand and the wise man who builds his house on the rock. I love this story. It takes me back to my childhood and the memory of all my sandcastles – however elaborately made and carefully defended- being washed away on the Welsh beaches.
And it’s a story my children liked as they were growing up- and the message is such a simple one. Make Jesus, and the teachings of Jesus, your foundation, and you will be able to stand in the storm.
There are just two things which make this more of a salutary tale than a reassuring children’s Sunday school story.
The first is that Jesus says those who hear these words and ACTS on them… knowing what the bible teaches, or what Jesus says, is not enough. Our lives must reflect that teaching- we must take it on board, act upon it, “The person who hears my words and acts on them” is like a man building on the rock. The person who hears or reads God’s word regularly, nods wisely, and carries on unchanged, without challenging themselves or allowing the teaching of Jesus to transform their attitudes- that person is not very much like the man who builds on the rock.
So- all of us who regularly worship and hear the words of Jesus have a question to ask ourselves- are we doers of God’s word or just hearers? That is a question to ask ourselves not just occasionally, but especially when we find ourselves challenged by the Gospel. Are we living it out? Growing into it? Because if we aren’t, we can expect the first flood to wash our foundations clean out from under us.
But the second thing to notice is this- Jesus does not say “build your house on a rock and the storms will never come”. He says when you build your house on a rock, it will withstand the floods, storms, rain and wind WHEN they come.
As Christians we are not immune to illness, bereavement, poverty, false accusation, professional failure, isolation, frustration or any other affliction. And sometimes publicly following Jesus can cause you more trouble than you started out with. Make no mistake- the storms will come.
But when we fully understand the depth of Christ’s love for us and the fullness of the eternal life he calls us into we find courage, steadfastness and hope. And we will find that his love- his unshakeable, unbreakable love is our true home- a home not made on rock or sand, but woven into time and space itself, an eternal refuge from every storm.