Jesus tells us several times to build our foundations on solid rock so they can withstand whatever threatens them. He knew that without a strong foundation, we are fearful and anxious, searching for anyone or anything that will keep us “safe” and “protect” us from the bad things of this world, whether from the local economy or global terrorism. Without a strong foundation, we have no base from which to reach out to those whose social, racial, or ethnic characteristics are not ours. We cannot be confident in ourselves, passionate about mercy, open and vulnerable, loving and willing to engage. We become exclusive, drawn inward, anxious, and self-preserving. That is clearly and unequivocally against God’s will for us.
Yet when God built the foundations of the church, of Christ’s body on this earth, did God follow Jesus’ teachings? Not really. God’s “house” is built of human stones, of people like you and me. Individually, none of us is all that stable. We are imperfect, struggling, sinful, rebellious, suspicious, stubborn, ever-learning creatures who have to consciously work, pray, stretch and grow to become half the disciple that Jesus wants us to be. What was God thinking?
Yet somehow, when we humans join together with God, we are stronger than anything that threatens us. We have confidence that even when we screw things up royally, even when we sin, even when we head in the wrong direction, whether individually or collectively, God is always there to forgive, teach, admonish, and gently lead us on to the right path.
What Jesus does, then, is take this message that seems so simple on its face and turn it on its head. It’s the same thing he did with the Good Samaritan, when he turned a question about who my neighbor is into a lesson about how to BE a neighbor to all. In this case, he tells us to build our house on strong foundations, and yet he presents us with a stark and important choice: Are WE willing to be part of God’s foundation on earth? Are we building ourselves on prayer, reflection, and service in order to become solid supports for God’s reign? In other words, we are not to build for ourselves alone or for just the foundations of our private homes and individual lives. Instead, we are to become God’s foundation in service to the world. That is a much greater challenge indeed!
So as I look at the world today, as I consider the upcoming election, and as I decide how to act and react to local, national, and global events, I must look at the ways in which I am a crumbling or cracked part of the foundation. I need to examine my motives and my life, so I can fill in the cracks with faith, mercy, justice, and compassion for all. I need to be continually re-shaped so I can be an ever-stronger part of God’s house on earth. I hope you will, too, because none of us can do it alone. Although Jesus is the cornerstone, even he is not enough. God needs us. Let’s become worthy to be his building materials.
I end with the beautiful lyrics written by Rory Cooney in his song titled You Have Built Your House (WLP 2005) and I pray that we all may become ever-stronger foundations stones for God.
“You have built your house of living stones;
Nothing of our hands can hold you.
Who can build your house but you alone? Who can hold you?
Build us into a house of prayer, a house of peace, a house of care – inn and hospice, fortress, banquet hall.
Home for all!”
Amy Florian is a teacher and consultant working in Chicago. For many years she has partnered with the Passionists. Visit Amy’s website: http://www.corgenius.com/.