About 22 Inches

One of the missionaries I worked with over in Taiwan was a retired engineer named Joe Farlow. Every once in a while I would be in the same vehicle with Joe, traveling the busy streets of downtown Taipei, and I would hear him comment on some of the construction that was going on around town. 

You had to listen carefully, because Joe was a soft-spoken gentleman, like so many other engineers I have known. But if we happened to pass one of those construction sites where they were pouring a skinny little slab right onto the dirt for a multi-story building, I would hear Joe mutter to himself: "I can't believe they're doing that. Now there's a crew that doesn't know what it's doin'."

I would often attribute such grousing to prejudice or cultural insensitivity. He did seem to have a little bit of that. Or maybe it was just old age. We all had the impression that Joe and his wife had been on the mission field since the Ming Dynasty at least. 

But one day, years after old Joe and his wife had departed for the States, those comments came flooding back! 

I was driving through the northern district of Taipei—called Shih-Lin actually—when I turned a corner and found myself confronted with a shocking spectacle:

There was a building on that street—it was Chung Shan Road—that I had been driving past for years, without ever really noticing it. The building was eight stories high, or had been anyway! On this particular morning, it was six-and-a-half stories high! The entire building had sunk into the ground—a story and a half at least—just dropped straight down! 

A large crowd was gathered around it. The sills of the second-story windows were now peeking out over the sidewalk!  People were now climbing down ladders from the third-floor windows! 

To this day, that moment ranks as one of the most shocking things I've ever seen. I drove home that afternoon with good ol' Joe Farlow on my mind. He may not have been the most dynamic missionary around, but he sure had a knowledge of foundations! 

And is there anything more important, really?  Every building desperately needs a good foundation. Every marriage does too. Every family. Every institution. Every nation! 

And every Christian—did you know? How is your foundation holding up these days? 

Jesus taught deeply on this subject. He recognized how important it is for us to have a firm foundation. And He emphasized only two simple things as the key to it all: "hearing His Word" and "doing it"—doing what He says. That's what He taught in Luke 6: 

"Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord' and do not do what I say?" He asked. "I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When the flood came, the torrent struck that house, but could not shake it, because it was well built. 

"But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete." Lk 6: 46-48

Powerful truth that we must all take to heart.

There are several things to observe with this teaching from our Lord...

1. Everyone's building. This life of yours and everything you do, every choice you make, is a 'building' going up. And everyone builds one.  The ultimate question is: will it stay up?

2. The storm will come. Can you look back up at those verses above? Did Jesus say "if the storm comes"?  Didn't think so. 

3. Hearing the right voice and hearing the right way is the key to a sure foundation. Jesus Christ is the voice we must heed dear ones! We don't survive the "storm" listening to Plato or Socrates or Dr. Oz. Jesus intentionally addressed His teachings to those would listen to Him. "But I tell you who hear me..." Lk 6: 27 

The wisest people have always done so. Remember Peter? "Lord, you have the words of eternal life? To whom else would we go?" Jn 6:68  And remember those dear soldiers from the Temple Guard, when the rulers scolded them for not arresting Jesus? "Where is He? Why didn't you arrest him?" "Oh, no one ever spoke like this man spoke." Jn 7:46   God bless 'em! That's a beginning! 

How you hear is just as important. Some hear God's Truth and find it "all very interesting"; "much food for thought"; "intellectually stimulating". But the building will crumble if that's all you do. No no! It is those who "hear my words and put them into practice" dear ones, who survive the storm and the torrent! 

It's quite obvious from all of this that "asking Jesus into your life" is not enough. You must "listen" and "heed" dear ones!—and do as He says! 

There is a famous iron pillar in the courtyard of a Hindu temple in the ancient city of Delhi. They say that it's been there for 1600 years. It is 23 feet tall. The Hindus have always insisted that the foundation of that pillar reaches all the way down to the very center of the earth. All the way down to where the snake god Vasuki dwells. For centuries no one ever questioned the notion. 

But one day, during the British occupation of India, a group of British soldiers grew curious. They'd heard the legend too and, of course, doubted it. So they started digging. I'm sure it was quite an outrage, but they dug down around the base of that thing: the base of the great iron pillar, and discovered...

...that it was 22 inches deep. 

You know? That pretty much tells the story of all the world's religions and philosophies. All the great "depths of human knowledge" come to about 22 inches. And none of it will survive the storm when it comes! 

"For no other foundation can anyone lay 

than that which is laid: Jesus Christ." 1 Cor 3:11

We're building on it every Sunday!  

See you there!                                        RAS

 

You Have An Advocate!
His Work, Not Mine