By Drew Zuverink
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had it's foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."
Jesus finishes his most famous speech, the sermon on the mount, with this parable of two builders. In his sermon, Jesus, the creator of all people, had taught the crowd the best way to be human. Jesus was doing more than giving the people a list of do's and don'ts; he was handing them the blueprint for how to live the best human life. He taught them the best way to deal with anger and adultery. He taught them about divorce, about honoring your word, about forgiveness and reconciliation, about loving enemies and taking care of the needy. He told them to store up treasures that last and to trust God so that they wouldn't worry so much. And after giving them the blueprint to be able to construct a beautiful life, he tells them to go and start putting it together.
Jesus knew how valuable the truths in his sermon were. He was confident that they would bring joy, love and fulfillment, and so he tells them to go and try them out. Isn't that what practice is - essentially testing if something works? For example: if I'm experiencing stomach pain, and my doctor suggests that it might be related to my diet, how might I figure out my cure? Well I should probably practice eating differently to see what helps. Perhaps I am lactose intolerant, so I try giving up dairy for a week. If that doesn't work, maybe I have Celiac disease, so I give up gluten for a week. Eventually, after practicing different diets, I should be able to figure out the best way for me to eat in order to feel healthy. In a similar way, Jesus knows that his way of being human is the best way. It's the most enjoyable, it's the most fulfilling, and it's better than any other way - but most people don't know that yet. If only they took the time to practice...
For us too, we ought to test out Jesus' blueprint for humanness, as if we believed that he knew the best way to live. Far too often we doubt that Jesus' way is best, and so we don't even try. We aren't going to be perfect, God knows that, that's probably why he used the word practice. No person is going to be able to perfectly emulate Jesus' teachings, but every single one of us can start practicing. We might not be able to build a perfectly sturdy house just yet, that is wind resistant and rain proof, but we can still start putting pieces of a house together. If we follow the example of the wise builder by putting Jesus' words into practice, our house might start off looking a little rough. It might look more like an old beat up shack than a well built house. It might let in rain when life gets tough, but it'll keep some of the rain out. Eventually, after enough practice, our house will become more reliable and it will stand up to more and more of life's unpredictable circumstances. But the only way to get there is to put Jesus' teachings into practice..
Friends, Jesus' way is the best way, but sometimes when life is good - we forget to practice it. When our family is getting along we think there is no reason to practice forgiveness and reconciliation. When no one has hurt us we don't even think to practice loving our enemies. When our marriages are going great we don't think about divorce. We cannot wait for one of life's storms to start building our lives on top of Jesus' teachings because it will be too late. The only way to be strong in the midst of a storm is to build our house before the storm comes. We mustn't ever tire of practicing Jesus' way of being human. Storms are coming, the question is; will you be ready?