Thinking about the parable of the two builders at the end of Luke 6, yesterday we thought about the point of the story (that wisdom is in the doing of what Jesus said), and that Jesus said when, not if. That is, trouble to test our lives is coming. Here are two more reflections for us:
3. We are not exempt from the “hear and do” teaching. All Christians are prone to fall short of the “do” step. Preachers are especially prone to this error. We can so easily think it is enough to hear, to read, to know, to understand, even to believe … but Jesus said that we need to actually do what he says. This is true in two respects:
- It is true as a preacher. We need to be those who hear Jesus and put into practice what Jesus preached. It is frightening to get up close to some big-name speakers and discover that their spiritual immaturity has been pandered to because of their status. It is sad to discover some who hold positions of spiritual influence have gaping flaws in their character and would rather excuse themselves than seek to grow in those areas.
- It is true for our preaching. What kind of sermons are we building? It is a problem if our sermons are being built late on Saturday and early on Sunday (I know I have been guilty of this for various legitimate and less legitimate reasons!) Even if we start several days earlier, when do we have time to do what the passage teaches? Could it be that we read, we study, we understand, we believe, and then we preach a sermon built directly on the ground without a foundation because we have not done the doing part? Our sermons will stand up to testing if they have first been tested “under applied conditions” in real life.
4. Let Jesus motivate you.
- There is motivation in the words Jesus spoke on several levels. It is encouraging to us in those areas where we are actively obeying even though it is not easy, and we don’t see automatic fruit. It is a warning that we all need, that disobedience may not yield instant consequences, but the house will eventually collapse if it is built on hearing only. It is an explanation for some who find themselves picking through rubble because of past choices. There is lots of motivation in the words Jesus spoke.
- There is also motivation to be found in the Jesus who spoke the words. We can drop into the passage at a parable and hear the instruction, but miss the voice that is speaking. This is the same Jesus who was pursuing the people, inviting them to follow him, to be with him, to see who he was, to discover his love for his Father, his compassion for hurting people, and his love for his own. Four verses at the end of Luke 6 can pack quite a punch, but the book of Luke as a whole invites us to put ourselves completely under the influence of Jesus, the one who loved us and came to seek and to save that which was lost. Parables are not just good stories, they are stories spoken by a good person.
Next week I will offer some preacher reflections on another parable…