On Monday I had the opportunity to do the opening devotion for Lutheran Schools Week at St. Paul Lutheran in Millington. The theme was “Upon This Rock.” When I learned the theme, my thoughts first went to Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:24-27.
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (ESV)
First we sang “In Christ Alone.” I chose that song specifically because the first verse has the lyrics “This Cornerstone, this solid ground. Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.”
After we sang “In Christ Alone” it was time to have some fun. I think the kids were up for some fun because I also learned that Monday was pajama day and wild hair day. I chose three “volunteers” from the audience based on who had the wildest hair. There was one girl who had colored her hair purple, put it straight up and it also had a huge googly eye in it. The second “volunteer’ had her hair up with peacock feathers in it. The third was pastor who was wearing a long bright purple wig. I had built a little sandcastle in a pan at the front and they were going to be my storm. I gave each of them a squirt bottle and told them to be the “storm” on my sandcastle. I’m sure you can guess the results. In pretty short order it was nothing but a bunch of washed out sand.
I asked everyone (and I’ll also ask you now) what kinds of things could we try to build our lives on that are like building our house on the sand? We could try to build on money, or material things. We could try to build on human relationships. We could try to build on our own good works. We could try to build on worldly power. Or we could try to build our lives on being happy. The possibilities are endless!
Notice in that verse above that Jesus didn’t say, “if the storms come,” but rather, “and the rain fell, and the floods came.” It’s not “if” but rather “when.” If we’ve built on money, it will vanish or like Jesus said, “where moth and rust destroy.” If we built on human relationships, people will disappoint us. If our foundation is our own good works, we’ll disappoint ourselves along with God. Power fades or corrupts. And do I really need to even mention what happens to happiness? If our foundation is sand it’s going to end up in a mess.
Next I pulled out a rock and placed it on the tray and told my volunteers to go at it. The only thing that happened to the rock was that it got wet. They weren’t able to wash it away. It was just like Jesus said, “but it did not fall.”
So what is the foundation of rock? Of course the first answer that they gave me was the standard Sunday School answer, “Jesus.” Now that’s not wrong, but can we add anything to it, or can we be more specific? I think we can. In our Lutheran circles we would refer to the three solas. Sola scriptura, sola gratia and sola fide. Or, in English, scripture alone, by grace alone, through faith alone. We can trust the Bible. It is a foundation for building a life upon. One that will not ever wash away, no matter what storms in life rage against it. Grace is also something that will never wash away. No matter how others disappoint us or we disappoint ourselves, we can trust in God’s unfailing grace. Faith is also something that we can build our lives upon. It’s only through faith that we receive the benefit of forgiveness and can have a foundation that lasts into eternity.
I picture a half drowned person, battered by the wind and the waves, and yet clinging to a rock that won’t give in to the storm. It is the only thing that saves him. That’s what Jesus and the three solas are for us!