Sermon on the Mount - Sermon #13 - Building a Strong Foundation
Rev. April S. Blaine, Given on Sunday, October 27, 2013
When we first moved to Columbus, my husband and I bought a house on the west side of town. It was convenient to where both of us needed to go each day, it was a quiet street, and the price was right.
We loved that house – in fact, we still own it – and are trying to sell it –
But soon after moving in we noticed that the floor had started to sink in near the entrance to our bedroom. We soon noticed other spots around the main level of the house where the floor was sinking down.
So, we hired someone to come over and take a look at what was going on.
After he looked in the crawl space – he came upstairs –
Well, Ma’am, he said. I can tell you exactly what your problem is.
Your floor joists weren’t installed correctly.
The builder of this house was obviously cutting corners. So instead of laying the floor joists the proper length apart. It looks like he spread them out a bit
Probably trying to save some time and some money.
So, how do we fix it?
Well – he said – you can try to build some things underneath it to support it.
But – the only real way to repair it is to pull up the floor and re-build it the right way.
And then he said this – which I didn’t forget.
If you want a solid floor – you’ve got to start with a solid foundation.
So, for the past 3 months, we’ve been maneuvering our way through the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus began with the important words – Blessed are you. Everyone is blessed. Even and perhaps especially the people we least expect.
And you are called – Jesus said – to be the salt of the earth, the light of the world.
To share the message of God’s love to all – so that the ones who don’t seem to know that they are blessed – might hear the message.
You are blessed so that you can be a blessing to the rest of the world.
But it’s not going to be EASY. There are some things in your life – you’ll need to take a look at – some parts of your heart that need to be rebuilt.
Let’s start with your anger and bitterness. That’s where it begins.
And I’m not afraid he said to talk about the lust in your hearts, the ways in which you treat others like an object.
We’ll need to look at the promises you make and why you make them.
And your willingness to see other people as people.
So that – one day – you can EVEN love your enemies.
The goal here is a HEART that’s perfected in love.
But that’s just the beginning.
You’ll need to be careful not to practice your religion in front of people so that they will thing you are something great. You don’t need to worry too much about approval of other people.
But center your prayer life, your giving, your fasting. So that your compass is focused on God and God’s kin-dom.
It’ll be tempting to worry about your money, but be careful about putting your security and your trust in your money and your stuff. Keep your eyes on the things that bring wholeness and light to your body. Taking care that the stuff we take in doesn’t harm others or us.
And after doing all this work with ourselves. We’ll be tempted to judge others who are at a different stage of the journey. We’ll be tempted to try to get them to do what we’re doing. We’ll try to offer them things even when they may not be very useful.
So be careful with that temptation and remember to always take the posture of someone who is asking and seeking and knocking. Treating others as we would like to be treated.
It’s a narrow gate. It’s a challenging road. You may have to cut down some trees to get there – but the path that I’ve invited you to walk is actually the path to life.
So – the question Jesus asks is simple.
Will you do it?
Will you listen to what I’ve told you and put it into a practice.
Will you build your life upon these teachings – taking the time and the care to work through the hard stuff – to really look at the ways your heart needs to change.
Or will you cut the corners?
In the Israeli climate – there is a dry season and a wet season.
Builders who built their houses during the dry season could choose just about anywhere to build.
A house on sand would appear to be just as sturdy as one on rock.
Until the storms came.
And the storms would always come.
I think about my little house on the west side.
I’m sure when the builder walked on the floors at first. They seemed sturdy. When the first owners were there – it might have even been ok for a few years.
But the foundation wasn’t prepared for what would come.
So – Jesus asks us to really think about it –
Where do you need to look again at your foundation? Where do you need to stop pretending that what you’ve built is really prepared for the storms that come?
The bishop spoke last night and he said these words –
“We Christians don’t really have a problem with belief. We have a problem with PRACTICING our beliefs.”
Perhaps we need to take another look at the foundation.
Maybe its time to pull up the floor and rebuild.
At summit - we are trying to be the kind of place that is challenging each other to not walk away from those conversations -
It means we are going to talk about how to do this work across generations - whether you have been building a foundation for 8 months or 85 years.
It means we are going to talk to each other about the places we get stuck - we are going to talk about race and class - we are going to talk about politics and money and sex /
We are going to talk to each other about what it will take to be the kind of people who have chosen the narrow gate - it's not going to be easy friends - but it's the pathway to life.