5/29/05, Memorial Day, P2A
n interesting aspect of the recent Tsunami devastation in South Asia is that most of the newer concrete block homes were washed away whereas the traditional houses build from bamboo withstood the great tidal wave. Readily available bamboo poles were tied together with strips of bamboo and after it all shrank tightly together in the sunshine it formed a strong building material.
Building our houses on strong foundations is what Jesus is talking about in today's text. Our houses need to be built strong so that they can withstand the natural disasters that come our way. Our friends in Florida are bracing for another summer of hurricanes that will hopefully not be as deadly and as devastating to houses as were the ones last summer. Thousands of houses were totally obliterated and there are many families that have not been able to rebuild yet. Now these same folks face the probability of more hurricanes. New more stringent building codes will help in the future but it will take a long time for those who lost everything to get over the physical and psychological devastation. These hurricanes have wracked terrible psychological damage to families. It has been so bad that most folks can't even talk about it. However, the promise is that in the end we will prevail through the power of God.
Jesus' analogy between the strong foundations necessary to underpin strong houses is directly related to the spiritual foundations of our Christian homes.
The Christian way of life makes certain assumptions that govern most of our practices in our homes. Many people do not even realize that much of what is assumed comes from biblical ideals. For example, I have heard several young couples, who have come to discuss their wedding, admit that they are already living together; but usually say something like, “Now we are ready to begin a home.” In other words, something primordial, or assumptions ingrained into them by culture, has them convinced that there is a major difference between co-habitation and marriage.
Isn't it true that it takes more than superficial attraction between a man and a woman to make a home? Hopefully we all agree on that foundational principle.
Secondly, young married couples soon want a physical house that can be suitable for bringing home babies. It's just natural for young folks to begin to want offspring. You have heard the playful rhyme used to kid young couples, “First comes love, then comes marriage and then comes Billy and Bertha pushing a baby carriage.”
Thirdly, in order to have a Christian Home the parents must be Christians. I don't just mean nominal church members, but individuals who have made an intentional decision to follow God's will for their lives and have experienced His guidance.
Last Monday, May 23, was a day that Methodists denominations all around the globe observe as “Aldersgate Day.” This is the experience when John Wesley felt his “heart strangely warmed” by the Spirit made real in his soul. Since our Christianity is more that words, we desperately need the in dwelling presence, guidance and help of God to negotiate the back streets of life. This foundational presence of God alive in our homes is basic to what makes our physical houses into our spiritual homes.
When the spiritual home is built upon these foundational principles we can then begin to naturally lead our children into a vital relationship with Jesus. Actually, Christian Nurture's goal is to give our kids the opportunity for them to decide for themselves to follow Jesus. It is wonderful how even little children, sub-teens and younger, can understand and feel the Spirit's call upon their little hearts. One mother used the expression that she had, “loved her children into Jesus arms.”
It's only nature for children to want to become like their parents, good or bad. So, if our lives and marriages are built upon the solid foundation of Jesus Christ, then our kids will want to be like the persons that God is remolding us into.
And let me hasten to say that Christian parents do not have to be saints. Actually, there are no real saints in this world. We are all sinners saved by Grace. We human parents just need to be believers who have laughed with their kids, cried with them, celebrated Christmases with them, and have taken them to Sunday School and Vacation Bible School for their entire lives. If we do all these thousands of things that are normal for Christian parents to do, then it's hard for our offspring to miss out on the main thing.
And the point of Jesus message for us today is that when we have the main thing in control of our lives than all the other things that make a full life, find their own places down the line.
Jesus says that, “Not all people who sound religious are really godly.” (v.21) If we are to be the kind of individuals who can build a home, then we need to make sure that we are ready for home building, and child reading. You see, it's not what we say; it's what we are that matters to children.
The Good News is that God does the Redeeming and provides the Spiritual Growth. It's not for us to try harder, but to submit to Him more.
Although we are not immune from the hurricanes that swell up out of the Caribbean waters, most ebb before they reach this far inland, but we are sure to be tested by natural disasters of the soul. Hard-won victories are placed in peril; however, God is always faithful: “It won't collapse because it is built on a rock.” (v.25)
sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor