“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” Lk 6:46–49, ESV.
How often have you heard this – or the parallel passage in Matthew – spoken of very simply as meaning that we must make sure our foundation is Jesus. The rationale goes that Jesus is the Rock and therefore, like the wise man, we must make Jesus our foundation. Like the song:
So, build your house on the Lord Jesus Christ
Build your house on the Lord Jesus Christ
Build your house on the Lord Jesus Christ
And the blessings will come down
The problem with this teaching and this song, for that matter, is that it completely misses the point that Jesus was trying to make. Consider the context; in both Luke and Matthew this saying comes directly after a great set of teaching by Jesus called the sermon on the mount. Jesus had just finished teaching to the disciples what it meant to show true obedience to God. He finishes with an amazing conclusion to drive home his entire sermon, and that conclusion is…do what I say! Yet for some reason we take his teaching and make it…make me your foundation.
Now please do not mistake me, I am not saying that the idea that Jesus should be our foundation is wrong, for surely Paul says that, “For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 3:11, ESV) But Jesus is not trying to show what the ultimate foundation of teaching is. What he is driving home – and the point of this story – is that if you want to have a solid foundation you must do three things; come to him, hear him and do what he says.
I am unsure at what point we got this concept wrong but it drastically changes the way one understands this story. Jesus wants to show us what a person is like who comes to him, hears him and does what he says. He is like a man who has a solid foundation, ensuring that no matter what happens he is safe and secure against the storms; because he is built well. Do you achieve this by only believing in God? No, for “Even the demons believe—and shudder!” (James 2:19, ESV) What does Jesus say is the recipe for a solid foundation? Coming to him, listening to him and obeying him.
Is it enough to come? No, for what is the point of coming to him if you are going to ignore what he says? This has happened (and is happening) all too often in the church, where individuals – and entire churches – have come to Jesus and then continued living their life as they please. It requires coming to him and listening to what he has to say.
Is coming to him and listening to him enough? No, for what is the point if you come to him, listen to him and then ignore what he has to say? Instead, we must come to him, consider everything that he is saying and then do what says. If we miss our any of these parts of the process we completely destroy any hope of having the foundation that Jesus spoke of.
Do you wish to have a solid foundation? Do you want to have the sort of life that when a flood arises and the stream breaks against it that it cannot be shaken? Then, ensure that your life is built well, and how do you ensure that your life is built well? By coming to Jesus, listening to Jesus and obeying Jesus. Too often in the western church, we have settled for antinomianism* that lets us lay claim to Jesus – coming to him – while ignoring the commitment that comes with it – hearing and doing.
I would love to see us stop using this passage in the way that it is so often used and start using it the way Jesus intended it, Lord willing we will start seeing more people not just coming to Jesus, but hearing and doing.
* – one who holds that under the gospel dispensation of grace the moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation