Groundbreakers - Matthew 7:24-29

This is a family service talk by Nathan Buttery from the morning service on 9th September 2001.

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This family service talk relates to the "Groundbreakers" building-site-themed Holiday Club which was run in the preceding week.

Now, you might have been able to guess already that the theme of our Holiday Club this past week has been a building site. And we have had great fun building all sorts of things. And we’ve discovered that you need lots of different bits of equipment in order to build something like a house. Let’s see the sorts of things we have been thinking about. So what do you think we would need if we were going to build a house? (Acetates 1-4- crane, digger, bulldozer, man at cement mixer). And all these bits of equipment are very important if you are going to do some building work.

Now this morning we are going to think about a story Jesus told about two builders. And as we’ll see,

Jesus doesn’t tell this story just to entertain us, he tells us the story because he is wanting to tell us something very important. So let’s first look at Jesus’ story and then we’ll see Jesus’ challenge. And we’ll begin by meeting the two builders in the story.

 

1) Jesus’ Story

Now the first builder that Jesus introduces us to is a wise builder, according to Jesus. And we’ll call him Bob. Now Bob was a wise builder. And here is Bob (Acetate 5- wise builder) looking very proud of his first construction, a garden wall. You see Bob had been to building school and had learnt everything there was to learn about the building trade. For instance he’d learnt how to drill, and how to lay bricks, and how to drive a crane and he’d also learnt how to take long tea breaks, which were one of the toughest things he’d learnt. It needed a lot of practise. So Bob was a wise builder. And whatever they taught him at building school, Bob had remembered and learnt, and when he began building Bob put all his knowledge into practice. So that was Bob.

But then there was another builder that Jesus tells us about in his story. And we’ll call him Bill. (Acetate 6- foolish builder) Now Bill had also gone to building school, but he was not very good at building. In fact he was bottom of the class in everything. When he tried to drive the crane he crashed it through a block of flats. When he had a go in the digger, he flattened the site manager’s new car. And Bill was even bottom of the tea making class. Every time he made a cup of tea for his mates it was disgusting. Bill was just a hopeless builder- you can tell by looking at Bill’s first wall can’t you! And do you know the reason why Bill was so bad at everything? One very simple reason- he didn’t put into practice what he learnt. There was actually very little difference between Bob and Bill. They were just as clever as each other. They were both lovely people. They were both big and strong. There was only one difference. Bob put into practice what he learnt at building school, and Bill didn’t. And so when it came to building things, Bob was wise and Bill was foolish. Bob listened to his boss and put all the lessons into practice, but Bill didn’t. He thought he could do it his way.

Well one fine day, Bob and Bill both decided to build themselves a brand new house. Both houses were exactly the same. And here we can see Bob’s house (Acetate 7- wise man building). It was a fine construction- a lovely four bedroomed house for all the family, even with a garage to the back and a lovely bathroom with jaquoozie and sauna. It was very nice indeed. And so Bob kept on working and working, with many a tea break in between, until eventually it was finished (Acetate 8- wise man’s completed house). And Bob was very proud indeed.

Well just a mile or so across town, Bill was building his house. (Acetate 9- foolish man building). Here we can see Bill building his house. And it too was a fine construction. Bill put a lot of work into his house and it too was a four bedroomed house with jaquoozie and sauna. And Bill kept on working and working and eventually, after many tea breaks of disgusting tea, Bill finished his house. (Acetate 10- foolish man’s completed house) But there was one very vital difference between the houses. You see Bob had learnt at building school that the very first thing you do when you begin building is to make sure you have good foundations. Before you put one brick on top of another you must make sure the ground under the building is solid ground. And so Bob dug right down for several feet until he hit rock. And he knew that he was building his house on solid ground. But Bill didn’t think of that. He had also learnt that vital lesson at building school, but he ignored it. And thought to himself: "Oh, it doesn’t matter. Besides a good view is more important than solid foundations." And he decided to build his house on sand right on the beach. And if you look carefully at Bill’s house you can already begin to see it looks a bit shaky. Already the cracks are beginning to appear.

Well later than evening a huge storm began to brew. (Acetate 11- Storm). It began to get very windy and then suddenly the rain started lashing down. After a short while the puddles began floods and the little stream running through town began a raging torrent of water. Everything in its path got washed away. Now Bob was watching TV, and he went to see what was happening out of the window and he saw the huge storm lashing against his house. But he wasn’t worried because he knew his house was built well and it was built on firm foundations. So he went to bed happy that all was well. (Acetate 12- wise man’s house in storm). And sure enough though the storm raged all around the house, Bob’s house stood firm. Bob was a wise builder.

But a little way across town, Bill was very worried. As soon as the wind began to get up, there had been some very worrying sounds. There was a terrible creaking sound, and water was beginning to come through the roof. And then all of a sudden it happened. There was a huge crash and the side wall caved in. Water thundered through the living room carrying Bill down the road. Luckily he managed to cling on to a broken tree until the storm has subsided. But when he went back to his house, all he could see was broken wood and bricks. (Acetate 13- Foolish man’s destroyed house). His house was just a pile of rubble. And it was all because he’d ignored his training at building school. He’d ignored the advise to have good foundations. And he’d paid the price. Bill was a foolish builder.

So that was the story that Jesus told. Two builders, two houses, two endings. What was the difference? The difference was that one built on a good foundation, the other built on a bad foundation. One listened to the advice he received at building school. The other ignored the advice he’d received.

 

2) Jesus’ Challenge

So why does Jesus tell us this story? What’s Jesus’ challenge? Well the answer comes in the first verse that Isaac read for us earlier on. Jesus says these words: "Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like the wise man," who we called Bob. So Jesus is saying that people who listen to him and obey him are wise. They are the sort of people who are building their lives on the right foundation. If you build your life on the foundation of Jesus’ words then you will survive. And Jesus means not surviving just in this life, but far more importantly in the life to come. You see very often when Jesus speaks in the Bible he makes it clear that you and I will one day have to face God and give an account of how we have lived our lives. And each one of us has not lived according to God’s ways. It’s as if we have been building with poor materials. The houses of our lives are not in good order. And one day they will come crashing down around us, maybe not in this life, but certainly when we come face to face with God. And Jesus is saying through this story about the two builders, that there is only one way to be confident when we meet God. And that is by listening to Jesus and obeying him. When we obey Jesus and follow him it is as if we are building our lives on the rock. He is the only one who can help us when we meet God.

Now I guess many of us build our lives on things which we think we stand for ever. Maybe it’s money. Maybe it’s friends. Maybe it is family. Maybe its fame. But the problem is that none of these things last for ever. (Acetate 14- Halliwell quote) This is what ex-Spice girl Geri Halliwell said about her fame: "I’ve been chasing fame since I was seventeen, but as soon as I had had a tiny mouthful, I knew it would never satisfy." Not only does it never last or satisfy, but also none of them will help when we have to meet God and give him and account of lives. Jesus is saying that the only foundation for our lives is him and his words. That’s the only way we can meet God with any confidence at all. And throughout our Holiday Club we have been learning all about Jesus and the fact that only by trusting him and obeying him can we be sure our lives are built on the right foundation. And one of the memory verses we learnt this week is something Jesus said (Acetate 15- verse): "I am the way, the truth and the life. No comes to the Father except through me." John 14 v 6. Now that is a staggering claim isn’t it? And it would be worth checking out that claim. Here at St. John’s we have groups which help you to come to terms with Jesus’ claims. Because if it is true, then Jesus is saying that life is all about following him and knowing him. And the only way to know God is through him.

So that’s’ the point of Jesus’ story. It’s a story which shows us what a wise person does. Jesus is saying to us this morning: "If you want to build your life on the right foundation and if you want to face God with a clear conscience and a full confidence, then the only way you can do it is through listening to Jesus and obeying him. So the question he asks all of us this morning is this: "Where are you building your life? Is it in on Jesus and his words, or is it on something else?" Well let’s be like the wise man this morning, people who not only hear Jesus’ words, but also put them into practice by following Jesus.

 


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