Monday, October 8, 2012

Foundations Matter. Do houses?

46 “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? 47 I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. 48 It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwater's rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. 49 But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.”  Luke 6:46-49 NLT

A structural foundation in its most basic element, as far as I understand it, is what takes all of the loads from the roof to the walls to the floors, and it takes them and transfers them into your soil.  Modern foundations are made of concrete.  Ancient foundations would have been made of crushed rock and debris but the principle is the same.  Build a strong foundation and the structure won't shift, crack, and fall.  

I like that as Christians we told to build our "houses" on strong foundations.  We are to take the words of Christ and scripture and allow them to set the foundation of our theological and spiritual houses.  It would lead one to believe that there are a few core things that are required for foundations are all basically the same and serve the same purpose.  I would say such foundational core elements to the Christian life can be found in scripture with Jesus' interpretation of Torah, Commandments, and Prophets, coming down to the two great commandments to 'love God, love others.'  I would say outside of scripture the Apostles Creed really gets at the heart of foundational issues that most all Christians believe as being the core of their belief.

What I also have been pondering from this passage is that there is no formula, creed, or edict to describe the "structure" being build on this foundation.  As long as the foundation is sound any structure will suffice, home, business, sky scrapper, trailer, or shed.  To further my ponderings, I want to say this is a good thing.  Where I live most homes are constructed into the sides of hills and as such have a "basement" style foundation.  However there are a variety of actual housing structures built upon this same foundation, multi-level, split-level, ranch, American Colonial, Tudor, bungalow, and a variety of others.  Each unique in their design, architecture, and tradition.  But all the same basic basement style foundation.

Let's carry this concept to faith.  As long as we have the proper foundation what is to say that all of our faith houses then have to be identical?  There are a few things all homes need, load bearing walls, roofs, floors, windows, etc.  But with a little imagination the combination of these things are endless. Beyond the endless combination the ratio's themselves are endless.  You could have large living spaces and small bedrooms emphasizing the concept of community.  You could have large bedrooms and small living spaces emphasizing concepts of solitude and reflection.  You could have three bathrooms or just one.  You could have a two car garage to shield modes of transportation to leave the house or you could instead have an extra bedroom to welcome the stranger.

I have noticed very often these days that many in the church are becoming divisive over, what I would call for the sake of this metaphor, architectural issues.  We are complaining this house doesn't have enough kitchen space or that house doesn't have the right carpet or too many stairs.  Instead of simply saying, this house has a great foundation and it is lovely and it will past the test of weather and time.  Some will certainly be more comfortable in a ranch than a bungalow but that doesn't make either more right than the other.

So on a day removed from World Communion Sunday, I am simply pondering, is it okay to be different?  Is the foundation all that matters or do our houses have to look the same too?  Is there something to celebrate in our differences or should we constantly be striving for some sort of equilibrium where we try to look, think, and act as similar as possible?  Finally, where can our differences be exercised?  In our denominations, in our local churches, in our own faith journeys? Because in the end wasn't it the foundation that failed and caused the house to fall under the stress of a storm, not the number of bedrooms it had.


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