In this sermon, Greg addresses Jesus’ teaching on the differences between the wise and the foolish builders and what it means to act on what Jesus instructs.
Jesus contrasts the wise builder versus the foolish one. The wise builder is different because they not only heard and believed Jesus’ teaching, they put Jesus’ teaching into action. Wise builders are able to withstand the storm because they anchor their lives on the strong-as-a-rock character they acquire by repeatedly putting Jesus’ teaching into practice.
The foolish builder knows and believes Jesus’ teaching but does not consistently act on Jesus’ teachings. When the storm comes, the foolish builder’s house falls because they did not develop a rock-solid, Christ-like character.
The “storm” Jesus talks about is God’s coming judgment, and his point is that the only way to prepare for it is to put Jesus’ teaching into action and develop a Christlike character. Thus Jesus ends the Sermon on the Mount with a radical call to action.
This call to action is to grow in Christ’s love. This is what compels us, as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15: “For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for the one who for their sake died and was raised.” Christ died so that we could live for God. In Christ, God has done everything possible to make this happen. However, the “so that” is on us. This is about how we respond to all that Christ has done.
Why then is it sometimes so hard to make the transition from what we know and believe to action? We need a vision that causes us to see God’s love and compels us to act and develop this character. All of our actions express the vision that we see and all the positive and negative motivations that are embedded in that narrative. We need to join Paul and be “urged on” by the love of Christ but we can only do this if we see it.
If you find you act in ways counter to the Kingdom, it’s because to some degree, you are not urged on by the love of God. At the very least, this non-kingdom vision is brighter and more enticing than what you see when you image God. When we actually are captured by the love of Christ, this vision generates faith, as we see what we hope for and anticipate (see Hebrews 11:1). The more vivid we imagine a future hoped-for outcome, the more it produces the conviction that it will be so even though it’s not yet seen. The degree to which we imagine God’s vision of love is the degree to which we will move toward that reality.
Greg closes the sermon by introducing an exercise that helps us imagine this vision of God’s Kingdom of love, so that we might live in love and commit ourselves to act according to the narrow way of Jesus.
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