Each year since 1911…nearly 100 years, a professor from the University of Pisa in Italy has gone to measure the slant of the Tower of Pisa. And each year, the measurement shows that the Tower slants a fraction of an inch more. It is currently leaning over 17 feet. Built in 1173, it was constructed without a foundation and was originally only 3 ½ floors high. Instead of tearing it down and starting from scratch, 4 ½ more floors were added to the building that was already leaning. Scientists now say that somehow the foundation will need to be rebuilt or the 836 year old tower will eventually fall. Lots of luck with that!
What we learn from the tower and so many other stories of buildings or houses not built upon foundations, is that...it may not happen today or tomorrow...eventually, not having a foundation is going to turn out to be a very bad thing. Jesus understood this well and even wraps up His Sermon on the Mount with a story about building and foundations. Both builders in this story represent those who hear the words of Jesus and either act on them...or not. The key is…hearing the words of Jesus – and in the case of the man who builds his house upon the sand, he has not fully understood Jesus’ words and therefore is certain to fail.
Jesus calls this man who builds his house on the sand a moros, a foolish man. It is where we get our word – moron, so this is pretty vivid point, isn’t it? Paul tells Timothy and Titus to avoid people who are foolish…Jesus tells the Pharisees that they are fools (Matthew 23:17), and He doesn’t use the word lightly. Such ones claim to know God, but their hearts and lives are not truly with Him. Some people try to build their house of faith upon the sand. They give themselves over to religious or even spiritual substitutes…instead of Christ. They may believe in Jesus, but they do not truly trust Him as Lord of their lives. Commitment fails when testing comes. Whenever trials or temptations threaten, this kind of person folds up his/her tent of faith and packs it in. Those who have professed to trust in Christ, and yet, who have not obeyed God’s will, will ultimately be condemned.
The wise person, on the other hand, has faith in the Lord that endures the storms of life and makes his/her foundation even stronger! Jesus says that a person who listens to His words is a wise man; a wise man builds his foundation, his life on Jesus. Wise, here, means not just intellectual knowledge, but practical knowledge – the common sense wisdom that we gain through growth and understanding…anything else is nonsense. This person takes the knowledge that God gives Him and makes it work…he is intelligent in how to live a good life. This is what it means to build upon a rock foundation. The word "rock," here, is petra. It is the same word that is used in Matthew 16:18 by Jesus, when He tells Peter that He will build the church “on this rock”…Jesus’ words, Jesus’ life. Jesus is saying that those who “build on the rock” are those who genuinely hear and understanding what He is saying. It is the idea of listening and responding. Bottom line...we are to hear God’s words and do them (James 1:22).
Jesus’ point – the two men in story had much in common…both had a desire to build a house, both built houses that looked good and sturdy. But, when the storms came, one of the houses collapsed. What was the difference? It was not the external looks, for certain. The difference was the foundation. The successful builder “dug deep” (Luke 6:48) and set his house on a solid foundation…and this is what makes all the difference. So…dig deep. With tongue firmly planted in cheek, I say -- don’t be a moron, settling for some ordinary relationship with the Jesus. He must be Lord...He requires it! God is willing to build us, grow us if we are willing to dig. The two houses remind us that true faith in Christ will last, not only the storms of this life…but also in the final judgment. These have nothing to fear…their house is founded upon the rock and it will stand! Blessings,