(This is an edited version of Thursday’s Family Service talk at the Parish Church of the Ascension, Oughtibridge on Matthew 7v24-27)
There was a thunderstorm on Tuesday night – quite a powerful one. The rain was battering against the windows of the Vicarage and beating on the roof. There were flashes of lightning. It was a relief to be inside a sturdy house during the storm.
In his Sermon on the Mount – in words immediately before our passage this morning from Matthew chapter 7 – our Lord Jesus Christ warned that the storm of God’s judgement is coming on the world. God is not mocked. One day he will come and sort out the world he made but which we have messed up.
It will be the day when God’s rightful anger is unleashed against rebellious, selfish, sinful people. It will be a terrible day and it will happen when God’s one and only Son Jesus Christ returns to the world.
On that day when the terrible storm of God’s judgement comes we will want to be in a safe house.
Jesus told his story about the wise house builder and the foolish house builder to teach us how to be safe when the storm comes and to warn us against being unsafe.
Now the point about the two houses in the story is that they would have looked roughly the same from outside. Think of two similar houses round here – detached maybe, satellite dishes on the roof, bit of front garden, driveway for the cars.
But the big difference between the house the wise man built and the house the foolish man built was the foundation.
The wise man built his house on a firm foundation, on rock, so when the storm came his house stood safe. But the foolish man built his house on sand, a moveable foundation, so when the storm came his house was blown away and great was the crash of it.
So you can get two people sitting in church, both of them calling themselves Christians and being friends with one another and doing roughly similar things together. Going out together for meals, going to the same parties, seeing each other around.
Outwardly, they have a lot in common but the difference between them is the foundation they are building their lives on. One of them hears the Lord Jesus’s words from the Bible in church and when they read the Bible on their own or in a small group and that person aims to do what the Lord Jesus says day by day. They aim to live out their Christian faith during the week.
But the other person hears Jesus’s words when they come to church but they do not do what Jesus says during the week. They don’t read the Bible from one week to the next and they don’t ask God to help them to live out what the Bible says. They’re really no different from non-Christians in how they behave out of church. Why are they in church, you ask? Basically they come to see their friends, but what they hear in church makes no difference to the way they live.
That person will be swept away when the storm of God’s judgement comes.
But the person who has listened to the Lord Jesus and has put his teaching into practice will be safe from the storm and will live eternally in God’s wonderful Kingdom of love and light and peace.
Another way of stating the difference between these two people is to say that one is a real disciple of the Lord Jesus, a person who really is learning from Jesus, for the word ‘disciple’ means a learner. They are a real learner from Jesus, listening to Jesus and aiming day by day to obey him, whereas the other person only appears to be a disciple of Jesus. They talk the talk but they don’t walk the walk.
So, let’s make sure we leave church this morning determined to do what Jesus says day by day. A life built on that foundation will be a safe house when the storm of God’s judgement comes.