The Spirit of Holiness – Lenten Season 2021
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.
And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:24-27 ESV).
The Holiness Project – Day 4 “Spiritual Foundations”
Argentina is known for many things. We have “asados” (a typical barbeque) with some of the best meat in the world. We drink “mate” which is a rather bitter herb grown locally and usually shared around in a group (no more after Covid19) and we have Maradonna (and Messi) two of the best soccer players in the world. We love our soccer!!
But Argentina is also known for other things, such as Peronism (a political party) that has fascist roots but, really, is rather more socialist and has destroyed the economy. Many would argue that point of course but that is the problem. Not that I want to talk politics, you understand, just point out the obvious.
Argentina is also known as the country in the world with the most “tomas de tierra” (occupations of land) and it is becoming a major social issue. On the one hand, the constitution protects the right of every citizen to have a roof over their heads but on the other hand, people seem to think that they can just take over seemingly “unoccupied” land and start building their houses, private property be damned!
And the justice system doesn’t help things along either. It can take years before an eviction notice is issued (if ever) and the property owners are not allowed to physically have the new homeowners removed. What to do? Wait. In the meantime, people are building their houses, going to work, having families as if everything is fine and dandy.
Until one day, the judge decides and the police come and there is an imminent eviction with tears and yelling and regret and TV cameras. A royal mess, to be sure. It was all on the news this morning. Again.
What strikes me is the connection with what Jesus said in our passage for today. Don’t ignore your foundations, especially your spiritual foundations. If you do, there will be hell to pay. Literally. And all of the tears, and yelling and regrets will be to no avail. Jesus warned that there will be “gnashing of teeth” which indicates great anguish and regret.
It’s easy to ignore the foundations of your life. I have diabetes, type 2, and they call it the “silent killer” because it kind of sneaks up on you from behind and, before you know it, you can have a heart attack and die. It is a lifestyle issue. Yes, there are some genetic issues as well in terms of pre-disposition but the main culprit is our modern diet with its high concentrations of sugar and carbohydrates. That’s pretty well established by now. And most people know it.
Ignoring the foundations of our lives is easy to do. Diabetes is not the only “silent killer.” If you ignore your relationship with your spouse and family, your apathy can be a “silent killer” of your family life. If you ignore your relationship with God, your negligence can be a “silent killer” of your spirituality and, ultimately, of your eternal life and you could end up with your “house” destroyed by the storm of God’s return at the end of your life or the end of time (whichever comes first). Serious stuff.
As I sit here talking with you, I need to take stock of my own life and ask myself the question “Are my foundations strong? What am I missing?” The message is that these foundational issues are never obvious but are always dangerous.
For example, I brush my teeth religiously twice a day. But is that enough? Am I aware that taking care of my teeth is an essential part of my overall health? Without proper care of my teeth, I can cause digestion problems which can lead to other health issues over the long term. Teeth issues can cause inflammation in the heart and lead to heart attacks. So the question remains, am I doing enough?
Should I be flossing, for example? (Duh) Do I need to see a dentist more often? Should I be wearing implants (at my age that is a pertinent question) in order to improve digestion? The point is that I ignore my teeth issues to my own peril.
The same is true if you are building a business and working hard everyday but you ignore your health. Or you are a great family man or woman and you have a well-balanced life but you ignore your spiritual walk with God (or you are not a Christian at all). Or you are a religious person who goes to church regularly, tithes and has served as a church elder (or whatever) but your life is in spiritual drift and you have not discovered nor developed your gifts, talents and skills in the direction of God’s purpose for your life.
Spiritual foundations are key. Just like these otherwise good families who decided that it was okay to take over land that didn’t belong to the them and start building their houses (and their lives) on a foundation that would crumble into the dust under them one day. That shortsightedness will bring tears of regret but it will not bring relief. The justice system, at the end of the day, must decide for private property and that’s all there is to it. Period.
Jesus warned us. Will we listen.
One final thought to share with you is this. Yes, we need to pay attention to our spiritual foundations. We need to get our relationship with God right through Christ. No doubt. But we must also be on the way, in terms of our discipleship, to determining and developing our particular gifts in the fulfillment of God’s purpose for our lives. That is also foundational.
But here is the thing. You still have to build the house. Sometimes we stay so focused on the foundation, tweaking this and that, shaving off a bit here and there, that we never get to building the house. That is also a mistake. The house is necessary to withstand the storms of life. Projects need to be undertaken. Businesses need to be built. Strong families and marriages take time and effort and churches need people who get involved and engaged in the process of building the family of God.
Without a strong spiritual foundation, we are in danger of collapsing all of our efforts into the rubble of regret and tears. But with a strong spiritual foundation, we can build lasting structures that will serve the needs of many as we participate in God’s great rescue operation of this world.
The Desert Warrior
Let’s talk to God…..
Lord, I don’t want to be so foolish as to ignore the foundations of my life. My relationship with you, with my spouse, with my family is my top priority. But I also need to build a career, a business, an income and I don’t want to forget in that process to be an integral part of building your kingdom.
I know that everything is spiritual. Help me to stay focused on what matters and build lasting value for your benefit.
In your name I pray. Amen.