A firm foundation is required

The valley is extremely dry and hot, the houses there are cheaply built. Then the torrential rains cause a flash flood that picks up speed as it tears through the valley … The chosen ground decides over death and life. This is what Jesus declared 2,000 years ago.

Many villages in the Middle East were located on mountain slopes. Houses stood on rock, whereby the hewn-out rock formed a kind of wall. This secured the houses against wind and storms. Some builders, however, took the easy way out; they did not build on stone, but on dry sandy soil in the valley. This was quicker and less expensive, and in the almost always arid landscape it hardly ever posed a problem. But when a downpour came, a raging river crashed through the sunny valley. Those houses built on sand were flooded, carried away, and were a total loss. The house that was built on rock or in the rock was safe.

Jesus used this image to illustrate to the people that it is important to not only listen to His preaching and His commandments, but to also put everything into practice. The parable meant to say that is not enough to occupy oneself with the gospel superficially. In fact, He wanted people to occupy themselves with its true core intensively.

Do you only believe because your parents or your partner believe? Sure, this does connect and makes living together easier, and reduces the potential for conflict … But if all these human connections were missing, if you were completely on your own: would you still believe?

Does your offering practically take care of itself? A standing order for your regular offering is quickly set up, is convenient, cashless, and even allows for tax reductions in some countries. Is offering still a genuine matter of the heart for you despite the regularity, despite it being digitalised? Is your heart’s desire to give back to God out of gratitude still the most important thing?

Is the divine service just another appointment on your calendar? Today’s devices allow you to organise your appointments with a few clicks, which is especially convenient for recurring appointments. Would the divine services be part of your week even without a reminder on your device, or would the few free hours then quickly be crammed with other things? Do you long to be together with God, with a sister and a brother in faith?

Do you see work programmes, duties, and commandments in the gospel? Jesus served as an example and demanded a lot. There is a lot to do and no one can do it all. But the gospel does not only consist of tasks, but shows the whole love of God for humankind. Do you recognise this essential core or are you only just scratching the surface? Does God’s love excite you? A deep understanding of the gospel can also be had without theological studies; all it takes is a close look at the Bible.

Are you still waiting for a blessing because you have done something great for God? We have all done so much for God and the neighbour. And then there is the law of sowing and reaping, of offering and blessing … We should at least get a return on our investment, right? Do you recognise the blessing in that which God gives you? Or have you reached a dead end in terms of your expectations and wishes?

The gospel is not a bedtime story or a short story for in between. The gospel wants to change your life and give it meaning. With the parable of the wise and foolish builders, Jesus urgently appeals that we commit ourselves to the gospel and implement it. This guarantees a solid foundation for our own house of faith. Personal faith is given a foundation that does not allow it to be destroyed even by a storm.

The Bible Study service in September 2021 was based on the parable of the wise and foolish builders (Luke 6: 47–49). In this parable Jesus confirms the authority and effectiveness of His words. A similar story is told in Matthew 7: 24–27.

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Oliver Rütten
Bible Study, Bible , Divine service