“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” (Luke 6:46-49 NIV)
Our (soon to be) four-year-old is into building towers out of the large Lego Duplo blocks. However, he sticks all different heights and shapes together haphazardly, which means that his towers generally fall over before they get very high. He asks me to help him, and I try to show him how to build a solid foundation of matching blocks for his tower so that his tower will stand tall, but he immediately goes back to mismatched sizes and shapes and ends up with a wobbly and fragile structure.
I thought the attempted Duplo tower was a great metaphor for our lives as once again we head into an election cycle that is filled with almost entirely negative messages. Sadly, though extreme views are the minority, Christians are often associated with espousing messages that are perceived as hateful. I’ve recently been reading a book called Impossible People (by Os Guinness), where the title stems from a title for early Christians in the Roman empire. Despite what the Roman empire threw at Christians in an attempt to have them renounce their faith, they stood firm and flourished, ultimately conquering the empire. Emperor Julian, the last Pagan emperor, penned the following words in a letter to his pagan priests:
These impious Galileans (Christians) not only feed their own, but ours also; welcoming them with their agape, they attract them, as children are attracted with cakes… Whilst the pagan priests neglect the poor, the hated Galileans devote themselves to works of charity, and by a display of false compassion have established and given effect to their pernicious errors. Such practice is common among them, and causes contempt for our gods.
At the end of his life, emperor Julian clearly saw the writing on the wall. The Roman Empire would not be conquered by a political revolution but by the love of Christ. Julian’s dying words were, “You Galileans [Christians] have conquered!”
The question for us, in a highly charged political climate, is not only what will we say, but what will we do? Early Christians weren’t part of the political fray; they had no religious rights and didn’t expect any. They simply built their lives on Jesus’ words by caring for the poor and sick and loving their neighbors as themselves. I’m as likely as anyone to engage in a good political debate, but in the end that doesn’t change people’s lives, while loving them like Jesus commanded does. I’ll end with the chorus of an old hymn titled “My Hope Is Built”:
On Christ the solid Rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand; All other ground is sinking sand.
Andrew can be reached via email here.