Standing in the surf, I feel the foamy water rush over my ankles. The first turbulent wave nearly knocks me off my feet. While the water recedes, the feeling is intensified as the sand beneath me evacuates with the tide, hurrying home. My soles are super-sensitive to the swirly, shifting sensation, a sudden void opening beneath me. This feeling is not too bad bathed in sunlight on a clear Florida day. It's less fun in the foreboding of global conflict with trigger happy megalomaniacs run amok.
Build your house on the rock.
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 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. 26 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. 27 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."
Matthew 7:24-27 (ESV)
Jesus reminds us that building our shelter on anything other than Him is like building a house on sand. No doubt lovely while it lasts, but fleeting and vulnerable indeed.
I so very wish that embracing Jesus as our foundation guaranteed practical protection from the winds of a wacky world. There are definitely many preachers these days who are happy to oblige (2 Timothy 4:3-4). They promise prosperity, good health, and supernatural protection if only we believe enough.
Though believers may be supernaturally spared some trouble, the testimony of the ages is that's generally not true. St. John got his head served up on a platter for calling out a world leader's moral lapse. St. Peter--the rock of the church--was crucified upside down by his persecutors as a voluntary, humble alternative to Christ's fate. They are joined by countless martyrs since.
Christians are subject to all the wayward forces at work in the modern world. Often more so, given the battles underway.
How I wish it weren't so!
In Christ, however, we gain eternity and access to supernatural reserves of strength, power, courage, joy, and grace to face whatever comes our way.
We can also tap infinite wisdom, which comes in handy, especially under duress.
Finally, we can enjoy the peace that surpasses understanding, even as tanks advance on your city.
If you're not enjoying all that, it may be that you're trusting your wit, your grit, or your own righteousness. That's sinking sand, too.
The cost of divine assurance.
To those who revile fear as an incentive, The Book is clear that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7, 9:10), while acknowledging Christ frees us from fear (1 John 4:18).
While Christ's loving sacrifice is a free gift of love, it's a free gift we must nonetheless willingly accept in order to receive it. That means acknowledging our need for rescue. Bound in the tentacles of ego and self-sufficiency (both B.C. and A.D.), for so many of us, fear is often the gateway to that sweet freedom and other benefits. Over and over.
There are those, too, who like to claim a Vanillafied God, One who is indifferent to our choices and who is loving in a way we find agreeable, graspable, and comforting.
The God of All Things is love and clearly explains His terms.
I mean, He's God. Plus, what could be more comforting than “It is finished?”
In our human fear, Jesus whispers, “Come closer.”
Any other interpretation requires some rather heavy-handed and presumptuous editing of The Book, which seems like a rather foolish experiment under the circumstances. He is both lion and lamb.
I double-dog dare you to listen to the inimitable Stevie Wonder's megahit Knocks Me Off My Feet, casting Jesus in the lover's role. Because He is the ultimate lover of our souls. And if something or someone is going to knock you off your feet, let it be Jesus the Christ who loves you more than you can imagine.
Grace & peace,