Text: Matthew 7.21, 24–27
‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord”, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
Today’s Gospel reading is one of those which always takes me back to
Sunday School. Do you remember the song?
And the rain came tumbling down.
The rain came down and the floods came up (repeated three times)
And the house on the rock stood firm.”
Then the whole thing got repeated for the foolish man who built his house upon the sand, till ‘the house on the sand fell FLAT’ (at which point we would clap and laugh hysterically!)
The surface meaning of this parable is, of course,
completely obvious. Those who build
their lives on the teachings of Jesus will have strong and stable lives. But those who build on other foundations are
doomed to live on shifting sands.
This principle has always been true for
Christians. Millions upon millions of us
can attest that a life built on the teachings of Jesus is a life filled with
purpose and meaning. It’s a life of hope
and love. A life of service and
fulfilment. But what are the
I think that recent events in our World have offered
us a whole new desert of shifting sand to contemplate. As a society, we have built our entire house
on some very perilous shifting sands. In
the last hundred years, this foundation of sand has become so ubiquitous, that
we hardly give it a second thought. It
is so ingrained in our society, so much a normal part of our lives, that we
almost never stop to examine it or question it.
What am I referring to?
I’m talking about the sand of consumerism. And I think the
consequences of that sandy foundation are now becoming all too plain to
see. Our house is sinking fast. The floods are rising….quite literally in the
case of climate change caused by rampant consumerism.
Have you ever noticed that every world economy is
measured not on levels of happiness, or by the way it takes care of its most
fragile members, or the benefit it offers to the climate, or the benefit it
offers to the intellectual and spiritual health of humankind? Instead, the single most important factor in
determining the health of an economy is said to be growth. Which is, frankly, nuts. If the economy of every country grew by just
2.5% per year on average, then in 10 years time, the world would need to
produce 25% more stuff than it does now.
25% more smoke in the air. 25%
more plastic in the sea. It’s
crazy. It’s the self-defeating,
civilisation-ending strategy of the mythical lemming. Something has to change. Something has to shift. Or we’re quite simply not going to make
it. The house on the sand will fall
CONsumerism – the clue is in the name. It’s a CON.
It’s a con, perpetrated on the whole of our society by the con-men who
currently pull the levers of power, and whose yachts, mansions and now
space-ships demand that we carry on consuming, consuming, consuming. We act like a virus upon with planet…consuming
everything around us until we will find there is nothing left, and that our
lives were built on sand.
Against this terrifying vision, Jesus offers us a
solid, rocky, alternative. His teachings
are granite-hard foundations on which we could choose to build. Jesus wasn’t an economist. But the principles he espoused can be
converted into economic theory, without very much effort at all. Imagine how different things would be right
now, if we valued healthcare, education, medicine, scientific enquiry,
spiritual growth, rest, retreat, and community service as much as we value
restaurants, pubs, cappuccinos and department-store shopping.
How can we change this? How can any of us hope to turn around the
Titanic of consumerism which is about to crash into the ice-berg of destiny,
taking us all to the bottom with it? We
do it one person at a time, just as Jesus did.
One soul at a time. We spread his
word, person by person and we live his life.
And we encourage others to do the same.
Consumerism only took root in our society because one by one, we allowed
it to. The opposite is also true, and
also a possibility. One by one, we can
stand up and say that enough is enough. Frankly,
it’s the only hope we have.
So, if you agree with my hypothesis…what will YOU do
about it. What changes will you make
today, to fashion some life-boats for the Titanic. Will you, once more, fall prey to the
marketing gurus who will have you buy billions of plastic toys for children,
and Christmas cards to people you will see
- perhaps even in church - this year?
Will you fall prey to the titans of industry who want you to decorate
your home with their laser lights, and their plastic trees? Will you succumb to the message that comfort
and joy can only be found through an over-stocked larder, a Christmas edition
of ‘Strictly…’ and a mountain of chocolate.
Will you build on sand again, this year?
Or will you stand up for Jesus – and for his way of
life? The way of charity, simplicity,
and love? Will you take time to draw apart from the madness, find some
simplicity and some peace?
Will you prioritise charity over chewing, giving
over getting, and loving over living-it-up? And will you call others to do the
same? For this is the good news we have to share…that it is possible to build a life on rock, instead of sand.