I agree with writers like Dallas Willard (Divine Conspiracy) who’ve said that Jesus’ teachings are the most brilliant in human history. Especially what’s been dubbed the “Sermon On the Mount” (Matthew 5 – 7). This teaching goes beyond mere behavior modification or inspirational platitudes. It deals with the deep issues that haunt the human soul and often leaves relational wreckage in its wake.
But Jesus’ teachings are not those that can be simply heard, memorized, and thought to be understood. We must “do them.” Notice how Jesus ends this particular discourse with these very familiar words:
24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” (Matt.7:24-26 *)
Before we get to the how we “do them,” do you see the brilliance here? Jesus gives us two simple defining statements about why people succeed and why they fail. What Jesus is giving us here is the secret to a life fully lived and fully inoculated from everything that seeks to shipwreck our faith or relationally diminish our lives.
You’ve probably heard a lot of teachings about these verses, but did it lead to putting them into practice in your everyday relationships? Do they shape your values and paradigm for life?
This “doing” doesn’t imply some religious legalistic obedience, reducing it to a transactional relationship with Him (we put in and He gives out). No, it means opening our hearts, practicing honest vulnerability, exposing all of our hopes and dreams and fears to His penetrating, unrelenting love.
When we “do” this, Jesus progressively heals us and weans us from our circumstantially-driven lives.
It’s not that the “wind” and “rain” won’t blow on our lives. Jesus said we would have trouble and trials in this world (John 16:33-34). The point is, He has overcome the world, so as we learn to live in Him we have constant abiding peace and joy…in spite of our circumstances. In fact, it’s in our trials where our faith is tested, serving to mature and fully develop us as human beings (see James 1:3-4 MSG).
Not only do His teachings demonstrate sheer brilliance, Jesus made it “doable” by placing us in Himself! This isn’t about some distant deity who came and solved a problem we had with God and then went back to heaven and left us with a book, so now we’re left outside trying to figure out how to make it. NO! Our life is Christ’s very own life! His Spirit ever abides in us. There is no outside looking in. We’re now inside looking out!
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Col.3:1-3 *)
This is important to understand. Otherwise we end up in one of two theological ditches. One would be thinking we should try to obey Jesus apart from abiding in Him by His empowering grace; the other would be to dismiss His teachings as being totally unrealistic.
What this discourse is telling us is what it looks like when one actually follows Jesus.
Do you want the best “virus protection” known to humankind? One that protects you against even the most outrageous “slings and arrows” that life’s circumstances can throw at you? It has no expiration date, it never needs upgrades, and it’s totally undefeatable and indefatigable! There’s no possibility that it won’t work! The enemy can’t outlast it because patience is a fruit of the Spirit.
The peace of God that surpasses all understanding is the greatest weapon of mass destruction against the kingdom of darkness. Our overcoming strength is found in rest!
Dear Precious Sought-Out One…take courage! This is the life you’ve been given and meant to walk in…His very life! When we see our circumstances from our life hidden in Christ in God, living from heaven to earth (Phil.3:20), there is no force in heaven or hell that can move our hearts into fearful resignation.
This is not religion. This is our life in Christ…this hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil…(see Heb.6:19-20). This is what it means to trust Him, and what it means to wait on Him as our triumph unfolds! He’s never failing.