david herndon

house on the rock

Why do you call me “Lord, Lord,” and do not do what I say?   – Luke 6:46

A while back I was talking with one of my students about life in general.  Somehow we started talking about driving and speeding as I explained to him that I did not speed anymore.  Back in college I sped a little too much, got a few too many tickets, and almost lost my license.  All of those little tickets added up to create a big problem down the road.  I knew I had a couple of tickets, but I always paid them off and for a few weeks obeyed the law to a T.  I didn’t realize the points were adding up on my record.  It was a great lesson, not only on obeying the law, but about how little things can add up to big problems if we are not vigilant in our pursuit of holiness.

Last week I was taking my oldest son to school.  It was one of those mornings.  We were running late.  This was not a good day to run late.  This was not a good day to see police lights in my rear view mirror either.  I felt so stupid because I wasn’t even paying attention.  Or maybe subconsciously I knew I was speeding but I was too focused on getting what I wanted (to school on time) that I ignored the consequences.  Either way, I was very surprised when the county’s finest pulled out behind me.  I owned up to my mistake, apologized to the officer, and fortunately he gave me a warning.  I could get on with my day.

At noon I got the text message: “Did I see you getting a ticket this morning?  I thought you didn’t speed.”  Of course it was from my student.  I quickly replied, “No – you saw me getting a warning.”  Like that made it any better? We had a good laugh about it, but the damage had been done.

Of course later in person I explained to him the whole story, my lack of attention, etc.  I owned up to my mistake and told him my plan to use cruise control on that road from now on so I wouldn’t have any more slip ups.  The whole thing is pretty embarrassing – here I am “proclaiming the truth” with my mouth and living out something completely different for the world to see.  I either need to keep my mouth shut until my body can comply, or I need to start living differently in a few areas of my life.

I think that’s why Jesus is so passionate about truthful living, as he asks this question.  Why would you call me your “Lord,” if you intend to disobey me anyway?  Either live out what I am teaching you or don’t call me Lord.  I know when I examine my life, my desire is always for Jesus to be my Lord.  And while I’m not robbing banks or murdering anyone, I am getting pulled over by local police among other “little” sins.  The little sins add up, and not just for me – for everyone in my sphere of influence.  My family.  My students.  My friends.

Jesus goes on to teach one of his most famous parables about the two builders.  One builds on the rock and one on the sand.  The storm comes.  The house on the rock stands firm, but the house on the sand is washed away.  The idea is that when we base our behaviors and actions on the beliefs Jesus teaches, we will stand firm.  I’ve always understood that if I don’t base my actions on Jesus teachings that I will be “washed away.”  But the older I get the more I understand that Jesus is saying in this passage that if I don’t live my life based on His teachings, then everything I have built – everything I have worked for, everything I have labored for – is in danger of being knocked down.  And what an effect that could have on the people closest to me.

In an age when former governors and movie stars are confessing illegitimate children from 10 year old affairs, French presidential candidates are being arrested for rape, and even churches are finding themselves in moral ambiguity,  it is more important than ever that we who call ourselves Christians make sure that our mouths are writing checks that our lives can afford.  As leaders, as parents, as spouses, as teachers, as members of community – we need to be building our house on the rock. This is not just for our personal sake, but for those around us.  They need us to live authentic lives of faith.

Jesus is not teaching us to stop calling Him Lord, but rather He is challenging us to live in full faith and full belief and full commitment to His way.  The beauty of this passage is that when we DO live according to Jesus’ teachings, when our lives and our actions reflect our calling of Jesus as Lord, we build something strong for ourselves and for those around us.  As the world inevitably crumbles around us, God’s word will stand true and firm and our lives will be a refuge that others can cling to (Psalm 1).

May we find encouragement today.  May we who call ourselves Christians, who call to Jesus “Lord, Lord;” may we do what He says.  Such lives could truly change the world.  Lord, give us strength.


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