In my quiet time this morning I read Matthew 7 which contains one of my favorite parables – the Parable of the Two Builders. Jesus teaches here about the importance of building your house on solid ground. In my baker’s mind I immediately thought of “The Parable of the Two Pie Bakers”. I can’t help myself – I see spiritual applications in everything! The “punchline” of this parable is found in Matthew 7:24-25.
Here is the text of Matthew 7:24-25:
Jesus compares those who not only hear His words but do them to someone who wisely builds his house on a rock-solid foundation. The rains come, a flood comes, the winds howl, but the house stands firm. I live in North Carolina where we seem to get more than our fair share of rains, floods and winds so it’s easy to picture a well-built house withstanding those forces. But let’s flesh that analogy out a bit.
What is This House We’re Building?
The “house” is a metaphor for our whole lives – our faith, our vocation or job, our relationships, our health, etc. Notice the entire house has to be built on a solid foundation, not just a few parts. It’s very easy for us to compartmentalize our lives without even being aware of it. Instead of an organic whole, our lives look more like colorful pie charts with hard lines dividing the sections.
We go to church on Sundays, and we may even participate in a weekly Bible study or small group. A daily quiet time of study and prayer is part of our routine. We feel like that “slice of our pie” is strong. We’ve checked the boxes, we are “doing fine” there. And then we consciously or unconsciously leave Jesus in His pie slice, and we move on to our vocational slice or our parenting slice or our recreational slice, as though He had no interest in or anything to do with those areas. But He has everything to do with those areas!
What’s Threatening Our House?
Let’s look back at our text (Matthew 7:24-25) – Jesus mentions three threats to our houses: rains, floods and winds. What might these things look like in our everyday lives?
Rains can vary greatly – they can be a foggy drizzle that sucks the joy out of our day. They can be light – we may need an umbrella, but we can still go about our business. Or they can be out and out downpours that we can’t even see through, complete with terrifying thunder and lightening. Taken together these are the everyday troubles of life – some small, persistent and annoying, some more troublesome, and some swift, unexpected and overwhelming.
Floods are obviously times when an all-out life threatening disaster is coming at us: a catastropic illness, the death of a loved one, a divorce, a job loss, financial ruin. We are in real danger of being swept off our feet and drowned.
Winds I see as “words.” Words that have great power to either build up or tear down. The words that beat against our houses are things like thoughtless remarks from a friend, a harsh rebuke from a boss, a heartless, cowardly attack online by an internet troll, or maybe worst of all, the negative, defeating self-talk we subject ourselves to all day long.
Jesus tells us that hearing and doing His words will empower us to withstand these forces. He promises that our houses will not fall. I especially love what it says in Luke 6:48 – not only will our houses not be destroyed, they won’t even be shaken! Now that is a firm foundation!
Is Faith Really Just a Slice of the Pie?
Back to my pie analogy. I don’t think our faith can be treated like a “slice of our pie”. Our faith is the key, foundational element. In a pie, it’s the top and bottom crust. I don’t care what you are going to stuff in that crust, a lousy crust makes for a lousy pie.
Nowadays it’s easy to skimp on the crust and many people take that route. They use whisper-thin frozen crusts that taste like freezer burn and have all the mouthfeel of a cardboard box. Or they use a refrigerated crust that is so full of stabilizers and dough conditioners that it tastes like you accidentally ate the plastic bag you wrapped your sandwich in. Most people believe the lie that homemade pie crust is “too hard” and “not worth the effort”. Just like they believe the lie that growing and maturing in faith is “too hard” or just for those super-devoted types. Or maybe the lie that the Bible is only relevant to certain areas of our lives, not the “real world” nitty-gritty of our everyday lives.
The truth is, however, that with the right recipe and a little practice, pie crust is absolutely a skill anyone can master and it is beyond worth making that effort. There is no comparison on between homemade and store bought pie crust. Likewise digging into, learning and applying the Word of God is something anyone can do and oh-so-worth the effort. There is no comparison between a life founded on it and a life foundering without it.
So Where Does Faith Fit Into the Pie Chart?
A good pie, a beautiful pie, a truly delicious pie needs a sturdy, well-made crust. You have to make sure the edges are tightly rolled together and crimped shut, sealing everything else securely inside or your filling will boil over, trash your oven and fill your home with the delightful smell of burning sugar. If there’s one sound you don’t want to hear when you’re baking, it’s the smoke alarm! And while the edges need to be crimped tight, you also need to cut a few openings in the top to “let off some steam” or the pressure will build up inside your pie and KABLOOIE!
Our faith is not a slice of our lives. It’s what undergirds and supports our lives. It’s what tightly surrounds and safely contains our entire selves. And in times of pressure, it’s the thing through which we can escape and let off some steam and “keep it all together”. Our faith is the framework thru which we show the world what is delightful and fruitful inside us. Without it, we’re just an ooey-gooey mess just waiting to set off the smoke alarm.
As Matthew 7:24-25 encourages us, build your life on the Word – it’s a foundation that will never change, never give way, never let you down.