Mr. Jolly, my high school geometry teacher, once called me out into the hall and let me tell you it was not to be a jolly conversation. He asked me in rapid-fire succession what I would call in-your-face questions. "Norman, why are you blowing off your work? What is the problem?" And then finally, "When are you going to get with it?"
It is never pleasant when someone calls us out on the carpet. Maybe it has happened to you because at work your productivity dramatically dropped off and you were asked, "When are you going to pick it up?" Or, perhaps in a heated moment you lost it and said something inappropriate and the offended party replied, "Why are you so cruel?" It might be this sort of wake up call was difficult to take at first, but later you came to appreciate the straight talk.
Jesus makes a statement about what a true follower is and then illustrates his reprimand by presenting a world-famous parable in which he presents two ways to live, a wise way and the foolish way. First Jesus shares followership defined, "For everyone who comes to me, hears my words and puts them into practice I will show you who they are like" (Luke 6:47). In this statement Jesus is summarizing that a true disciple or follower is one who hears the message of Jesus and applies it to their life.
Now the one that hears Jesus' words and applies what Jesus says, "They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock." The wise builder digs down deep and anchors his life house to the bedrock of Jesus' teaching.
This key phrase - digs down - brings many thoughts to mind. First of all, when I think of a shovel and a hole to be dug, I think of effort and work. Dirt under your fingernails and sore muscles come to mind. Jesus is making an important connection here that yes, salvation is free by further development in your faith, which demands an investment of effort.
The one wanting to live the wise way digs into the teachings of Jesus by study, contemplation and even memorization of his words. The one who is wise is trying to understand how to incorporate Jesus' truth into his life. Then he digs in by putting these contemplations into practice. Putting to practice is the actual application or use of an idea or belief. Jesus' teachings are not just to be theory, but be lived out.
The wise way brings a promise, "When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built" (Luke 6:48b). Rains, flood and torrents are going to come when - not if - and the wise one is prepared. If you are prepared you will have stability outside of yourself.
Another option is shared by Jesus, "But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete."
The foolish way of living is to hear or be in contact with Jesus' teaching but not apply it. Plainly, the fool listens to Jesus but does not put the lessons into practice. This individual is left unchanged by Jesus' words and the promise of this way of living is a curse when the trouble comes (the flood) and the collapse will be great.
There are three pursuits for wise living.
No. 1: Come to Jesus and hear his words. Where do you hear the words of Jesus? Personal Bible study, small group discussions and church gatherings are just a few potentials.
No. 2: Dig deep and anchor your thoughts and life to the bedrock. When you hear the words of Jesus, study, contemplate and memorize them. Allow them to settle into your heart.
No. 3: Lastly, apply the teaching of his words in your life. Look for opportunities to practice what Jesus is revealing to you.
Imagine what would happen in your life if you took Jesus seriously and committed to his wise way of living. Your life would be anchored and it would touch all those around you. All this is possible to those who dig the words of Jesus.
Norm Byers is the lead pastor of Genesis Church, with two locations meeting Sundays at 9:30 a.m. at Petoskey High School (use back entrance) and 11 a.m. in Boyne City at the Old City Park Gazebo. More information is online at www.genesiswired.com or Twitter @NormByers.