Faith Requires Action

Matthew 7:21-29

In 1992 Hurricane Andrew destroyed thousands of homes in South Florida. In one of the areas where the wreckage looked like a war zone, one house remained standing, still firmly attached to its foundation. When a reporter asked the homeowner why his house had not blown away like the others, the man replied ‘I built this house myself.’”
 

He then continued to say, “I also built the house according to the Florida State building code. When the code called for 2x6 inch roof trusses, I used 2x6 inch roof trusses. I was told that a house built according to code could withstand a hurricane – and mine did.
 

Likewise, Jesus said in today's Gospel, “Everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on a rock. The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds blew and buffeted, but it did not fall, because it had been set solidly on rock.”

 

Jesus is telling us that it is foolish to hear God’s Word but choose not believe it, or to only passively hear and not take it to heart, to build one's life around it.  Jesus said, ‘The people who are really blessed are the ones who hear and obey God’s message'.  In the book of James, he said something similar when he said, “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves!" Later in Matthew, Jesus cites Isaiah, "This people honors me with their lips but their hearts are far from me."
 

These many scripture citing’s all point us to aligning our words, our actions and our hearts in a loving response to God. Unfortunately, the downfall for many of us is that our response can be led more from our earthly interpretation of faithfulness than one sparked solely by love. The one sparked solely by love leads to faith-filled action.

 

The response sparked by love doesn't fall prey to a legalistic approach to faith which ends up pitting people against each other.  And the response sparked by love doesn't fall prey to an academic approach to faith that may be able to quote doctrine or rubrics or canon law but has lost sight of the love and compassion that is their foundation. 

 

When we align our words, our actions and our hearts in our loving response to God, the words of Christ penetrate us to the point of making a difference in the way that we live our lives.
 

Simply proclaiming Jesus’ name in order to accomplish our own will (showing our self-righteousness, moral or intellectual superiority or any other form of vanity), won't cut it for us.

 

Even the most ardent of church-goers can be amongst the most susceptible to this paradox (if you will).  I heard recently of a quote that came from a waitress who said she actually hated to be on the schedule at her diner on Sunday mornings.  Why?  Because, as she said, "Many of the people that had just come from church were the most difficult people to please. You would think; (the waitress went on to say), that people coming from Church would be a joy to wait on."

 

Among those churchgoers that the waitress waited on, we can imagine hearing them say, "Lord, Lord, did we not just come from church and profess our belief in you?" "Lord, Lord, did we not put a nice contribution in the collection basket?"  Lord, Lord, did we not download the latest Bible app on our Smart phone?  The list of "Lord, Lord" statements that lack the accompanying (and necessary) faith-filled action can be endless.

 

Today's gospel allows each of us to do a little self-examination as we try to reconcile God's Word with our own words and actions.  In what ways can we better align what we profess and believe with our actions toward all those we encounter - those that we care about as well as those, who to us, are just faces in the crowd?

 

In order to experience faith, peace, hope, joy and safety during the storms, we have to choose to stand on the solid rock of uncompromised truth instead of the shifting sands of moral relativism. We won't find safety if we pull away from God by handling life our way.
 

Today’s gospel message is not a lesson on how to avoid storms, but rather how to build our lives in order to withstand that storms that will come. Today’s message is about foundations, not finding storm-free places to live. Today’s message is about hearing and responding to the gospel message and God's love for us, and applying that message to our lives so we may journey through our storms and trials. 

 

And if we follow God's will, just as the homeowner who survived Hurricane Andrew followed the Florida State building code, we will remain standing tall, and proven worthy one day of eternal life in the kingdom of heaven!

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