March 22nd, 2013: The Thirty-Third Day of Lent

March 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

“Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.”

~Matthew 7.25~

Christ continues his teaching imagery. Many in Christ’s audience had experience with the rainy season and the potential disasters that it brought, so this picture would have been one that made a good deal of sense to his audience. One can picture many people in the audience nodding in agreement with Christ’s words. Yesterday, we discussed Christ’s teaching being the solid bedrock, the firm foundation upon which we should build our Christian life. Hearing and doing God’s will through Christ’s teaching has a big part to play in this. But how do we interpret the rain, floodwaters, and winds – the storm?

Many of us have probably heard the storm in this parable equated with the “storms of life.” Troubles, tough times, situations that challenge our faith usually get referenced here. However, when considering the context, this interpretation may fall short of Christ’s meaning. Seeing as the previous teaching section referenced the Day of Judgment, this parable may refer not just a storm or storms, but the storm – the storm of Judgment Day itself.

When seen this way, the parable takes on greater weight and falls into line with its immediate context. True, everyone will weather storms that life brings from time to time; and, yes, Christ’s teaching will provide firm support and guidance in those situations. However, everyone will also experience this final storm of Christ’s judgment; here, only the firm foundation of hearing and doing Christ’s teaching will allow one to weather the blast and enter Christ’s Kingdom.

This series of teachings also challenges what we think about Christ. It’s common in our time to soften Christ’s message, often with the best of intentions. We want to make it seem more appealing and inclusive, less condemning. The idea here is that if we take the hard edges off of Christ’s words, then more people will want to embrace him. Unfortunately, it’s not up to us to make such decisions. We cannot get by with saying that there are many ways to eternal life, or that Christ is a lenient judge who pats us on the back when we do well and winks at our sin when we fail. We cannot believe that Christ does not have the authority and power to decide who is a citizen in his Kingdom and who is not. His own words do not let us soften the message.

For us to “buy in” to the message being preached here, we must believe that Christ provides us with the way to enter his Kingdom; we must also believe that Christ has the authority and power to judge whether we have heard and done his teachings properly, or if we were just playing the game for our own sakes. He wants us to be on solid ground, which is why he’s telling us things that are hard to hear. We need to hear them.

Lord Christ, thank you for your teachings that challenge me. Help me to build on solid ground – by hearing and doing your words, for nothing else will do. Amen. 

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