I’ve often wondered why Jesus was called a carpenter. While it could be because he worked with his earthly father, who was one, Jesus remains the master-builder! He pledged to build an indestructible Church (Matt. 16:18) and, as Paul declares, everything was created through him and for him (Col. 1:1). What is truly self-effacing is that he is also building individual lives–yours and mine–and calls us to join in!
After delivering his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus poses a comparison between building on the rock, i.e. living out biblical truths, and building on sand, in which case he warned of a great fall and final judgment (Matt. 7:21-29). Either way, build we must–our characters, lives, ministries, and destiny. I find 3 valuable truths comparing the Christian life to the imagery of building:
1. Building our lives on Christ’s promises is something creative: We have been created in God’s image, imago Dei, which, though marred by sin, still retains creative instincts. But as Christians, we must build creatively because of the divine nature we share (2 Pet. 1:4-5). God’s grace is his enablement; it not only forgives us but also gives us the strength to live for and serve Christ. Further, in building our lives and his church there is a future we shape. As we are being conformed to Christ’s likeness, our service for him contributes to building other lives that will last, not just for today, but for eternity.
2. Building life on Christ’s words means we must be selective. A major lesson Jesus wanted his followers to learn from this parable is that foundations are essential. If how and what we build with are important, what we build on is vital (1 Cor. 3:9-16)! Life is a series of choices that have outcomes, which in turn determine our character and destiny. A good foundation will have proper depth, a definite design, and is composed of durable material. This is because destructive forces are to be expected to act upon the super-structure. Life, and the Christian’s is no exception, has its rains of sorrow; winds of temptations and floods of despair through which one’s faith is tested and proved!
3. Building one’s life on Christ’s words is very decisive. Notice in the story there was equality of opportunity; both builders had the chance of hearing Jesus’ words but chose differently, and that difference in choice proved decisive. How true this is of so many who hear the same preacher, go to the same Church or Bible Institute possessing the same Bible or theology books, yet choose so differently and with dire consequences. The Lord Jesus makes the finality in the outcome of people’s choices clear. The house built not on the rock but on sand (human wisdom) fell, and notice: “great was the fall of it!” Of all the choices Christians can make, our attitude to Christ’s words and his Lordship is the most decisive, affecting both this life and the life to come!
Let us not be forgetful hearers but effective doers of Jesus’ teachings in ways that will make us more like Christ so that our obedient lives will be a blessing and point others to the Master-builder.