At church this morning, the sermon was on Matthew 7:24-29, in which Jesus contrasts those who hear his words and do them, with those who do not. The former are like those who build their house on a rock, with the result that their house withstands storms and floods, and the latter are like those who build their house on sand, with the result that their house is destroyed in storms and floods. The pastor said that many back then chose to build their houses in the cool valleys—on sand—because building them on the rocky hills was laborious. Ordinarily, those with houses in the valleys had no problems, but their houses were destroyed when there was a flood once every generation.
The pastor talked about how building houses according to standards results in a good house, and that we have to live in the house that we build. The pastor also said that, when we obey the words of Jesus, we are solidifying ourselves for trials that will come. And the pastor remarked that the Sermon on the Mount contains good material on which we can live our lives, for it touches on our lives, as it discusses such topics as revenge, worry, and forgiveness. The pastor had “saving money” in that list, but the only thing in that sermon that appears to be related to that is when Jesus told people not to lay up treasures on earth.
I’m curious as to how following the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount can enable one to withstand storms successfully. I wonder if my faith has helped me to do that, especially when I get overly bent out of shape when the Little House episode I want to watch is not playing on YouTube! I’d have a hard time in situations where the future is uncertain. I think, though, that being in relationships with people who have experienced trials and survived them is helpful. In saying this, I’m not nodding to evangelicalism’s emphasis on communitarianism, for the vibe I get from evangelicalism is that God doesn’t like me if I don’t have a bunch of friends. Rather, I’m saying that relationships are helpful. Something else that’s helpful is gaining wisdom. The Bible can be a source for that, but some may find other sources to be more helpful—such as devotionals, or twelfth-step literature, or self-help books, or Dr. Phil, or Oprah.
Is the Sermon on the Mount good material on which I can build my life? I think that it can be. Feelings or passions such as hatred, lust, and worry can lead a person into bad places. But, if the Sermon on the Mount leads me to beat myself up over not being perfect—and to worry about my eternal destiny—then it’s not good material on which I can build a house. After all, I have to live in the house that I build.