Digging deeper into grace (04/18/2018)

Writing in The Times, Bernard Levin comments, “Countries like ours are full of people who have all the material comforts they desire, together with non-material blessings like a happy family, and yet lead lives of quiet and, at times, noisy desperation, understanding nothing but the fact there is a hole inside them, and that however much food or drink they pour into it, however many motor cars and television sets they stuff it with, however many children and friends they parade around the edges of it…IT ACHES.”

Why is this the case?

Quite often it is because something is wrong at the foundation of our lives. 

Tony Evans shares a story from his own experience: “There was a man who noticed cracks on his living room wall. So he called a painter to repair and cover the cracks. It looked like the painter fixed the problem, but a few weeks later the cracks reappeared. So the man called the painter back, and he once again covered the cracks with putty and paint. The problem looked like it had been fixed. However, in several more weeks the cracks came back, so the man called the painter again. After looking at many more cracks than he had seen before, the painter said, ‘Sir, I can’t help you because you don’t have a problem with cracks.’

“The frustrated homeowner said, ‘Can’t you see my living room wall? Of course I have a problem with cracks!’

“But the painter said, ‘The problem isn’t the cracks in your wall. Your problem is that you have a shifting foundation. The cracks you see on your wall are the symptoms of a deeper issue: the foundation of your house is moving. If you want to fix the cracks, you have to fix your foundation. But unless you fix the problem, you will forever be doing patchwork.” 

Many years ago, Jesus said, “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” 

On the other hand, Jesus also claimed, “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”

Our problem is that it is easy to listen to what Jesus says—even to like what he says and to be inspired by what he says. But putting his words into practice is more difficult. We don’t always feel like loving our neighbor or forgiving those who hurt us or caring for the needy or standing up for justice.

Soren Kierkegaard gets to the heart of the matter. He states, “Jesus wants disciples not admirers.” 

Our problem is that we often prefer to admire Jesus than to follow him and to put his words into practice. But the way to a more contented and meaningful and joy-filled life is to build a solid foundation to our life by putting Jesus’ words into practice—even when it is uncomfortable for us to do so.■

—Tom Tripp is the Pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Colusa. 

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Tom Tripp is the Pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Colusa. Pastor Tripp can be reached by e-mail at: tomtripp@frontiernet.net