Matthew 7:24-29 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall because it had been founded on rock. Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who builds his house on sand. The rain fell and the floods came and the winds blew and beat against that house and it fell and great was it’s fall. Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching for he taught them as one having authority and not as described.”
You Need A Foundation
I hope that you keep this in mind as a Christian, in everything we do, it is important to build a strong foundation. If the foundation is strong, you’ll be able to stand through storms and hardships. But if your foundation is weak, when the difficulties come, you will not be able to stand through the difficulties of your life. So foundation is the most important thing in building. When you have a strong foundation, you can add lots of things, but when you don’t have a strong foundation, you cannot. It’s useless to build all these things because when it collapses, they will all collapse together. So in life you have to think about what is my foundation upon which I built my life on. What is that foundation? And we need to think about it. And then once in a while, just drop everything. You need to go back to your basics. What is the guiding principle that guides my life? And if you have fallen away from that foundation, from that guiding principle, then you need to come back to the basics. So continuously you need to do this process in your life. You live your life without realizing it. You are influenced by something or someone or some circumstances and you fall away without realizing it.
And then you need to come back to the very fundamental things, the very basic, and that is called reformation. Reformation is not something that you start… new reformation is back to basics. When Martin Luther did the protestant movement, it was reformation because the Catholic Church, for a while, had a runaway from the basic fundamental things, so he did reformation to bring back them to basics. And then in modern days, churches have fallen away from the very basics – even protestant churches, and they need to come back to the very basics… and the same thing with human beings. Have we fallen away from basic humanity? Then if we have fallen away, we need to come back to the very basic fundamental things. I’m really disturbed these days about what is going on in the world, all the shootings and the refugee crisis in Syria and in wars and children being killed in the sea to run away from their own country…
And when I look at all these things, is that the best thing that we could do as human beings? Are we building the best life as a human being? And I wonder – without really critically evaluating our world, our life – Are we just accepting it as a status quo? Can we do that? No. If we have fallen away from the basic humanity as Jesus taught, we need to come back to the very basics. And Jesus’ message was always to come back to the very basic and fundamental thing. Did you know that Jesus never said anything new. Whatever Jesus said, whatever Jesus taught, they were are all there. They were all in the Old Testament. There was nothing new that Jesus said to us, it was already all in the old testament. But Jesus is just telling us how far you have been away from the basic humanity.
So when Jesus taught that, people realized, “How far I’ve been away from the basic teachings of God,” and they came back to the very basics. That’s why they were amazed. When you look at the scripture today, when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as their scribes, because Jesus knew exactly what we have been lacking. That’s why people listen to Jesus. And they were amazed at Jesus’ teaching. You know, when you look at the gospel Matthew, in the beginning, Jesus’ baptism and birth story, all of these things that are right in the beginning when you take those out. The first thing Jesus did was teach – sermon on the mountain, chapter five to chapter seven is about sermon on the mountain. In other words, build your life upon these teachings.
And that’s why Jesus said, “Okay, let me tell you.” And then He went up to the mountain and He told people, “These are the things that you have to build your life on.” So from five to seven are very important chapters. So I hope that you can read almost every day, five to seven. I’m going to summarize at the end, Jesus’ teaching from five to seven, the sermon on the mountain, but those are the basics. Those are the foundations upon which we have to build our life. Not just because you’re Christian, not just because you’re religious as a human being… you have to build your life upon these things. Otherwise your life will crumble, your life will be destroyed. But when you build your life upon this basic fundamental teaching, then your life will be able to stand through all kinds of difficulties and hardships and you will become a true human being.
Sometimes, you know, I realized that humanity… are human beings so evil? No, we are good. God has created us good and we have turned into less than human beings. We need to come back. What does it mean to live as a human being sometimes when we are so influenced, without realizing, it by the culture around us. Maybe materialism, money or popularity or self centeredness. We are continuously bombarded by these values and teachings of the world and then we forget about what it means to live as a decent human being. And so we need to come back to that. We are so fragile. We’re so vulnerable. we are easily influenced by our situation. You know, we think we are very strong. Like, “Oh yeah, I have a guiding principle that guides me.” We think so, but when I look at myself… I’m easily swayed by the situations that I’m in.
This summer I went to Boston and then Will, Grace, myself and my wife, the four of us went to New York. When I went to New York, people did not care about traffic signs. There’s a red light but they just crossed the red light when there were no cars. In Toronto, even at night I wait, even if there is nobody there and no cars going by, I just wait until it turns green. But everybody’s just going, even this beautiful lady with a suit on, she just crossed. And then a gentlemen too. They all do that, and then Will told me, “Oh Dad, that’s what they do in Manhattan.” And after awhile I was better than anybody crossing anywhere, “Yeah, that’s what you do in Manhattan.” I was walking and my wife said, “Hey, don’t do that.” “It’s OK, we do that here in Manhattan, right?” And then I come back here, and then I keep the traffic light again.
But we human beings are so easily influenced by the circumstances we are in. We need to always come back to basics. Whether we really keep the fundamentals, and this is what Jesus said: “Everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain fell, the floods came and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall because it had been founded on rock. Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them, will it be like a foolish man who built his house on sand? The rain fell and the floods came and the winds blew and beat against that house and it fell. And great was it’s fall.” So you hear the words of His teaching, and you should act on them, then you build your life on the rock. But you hear the words and do not act to them, then you are building your life on sin. And here sometimes people make mistakes.
“Ah, listening is not that important. Doing is what’s important.” So okay, if you do it, then you build on the rock. If you don’t do it, you build on the sand. And if you’re not careful right here, you fall into very sake religion, doing it for the sake of doing it, without really understanding it with no heart. Oh, doing is what’s important, but that’s not what Jesus is saying here. Here, hearing the word and doing it doesn’t mean that with your will. Like, “Now I know the words,” so with your will, you do it. That’s not what Jesus means. You internalize what you hear in you so that you become that kind of person… that’s what Jesus is saying. In other words, you meditate on it and you listen to it carefully. It becomes internalized within you. It changes you. That’s what doing is – it’s not really that you didn’t change at all and then you just do the things for the sake of doing it. You internalize the words.
Jesus never downplayed listening. Listening was very important to Jesus. That’s why Jesus said, “Let those people who have ears to hear, let them hear.” Let those people who have ears to hear, let them hear. Hearing was very important to Jesus. And Jesus also said, “My sheep listened to the voice of the shepherd.” Listening is very important and St. Paul said the same thing. “Faith comes from hearing.” Hearing is not unimportant, hearing is very important. There’s a good insight by Henri Nouwen about listening. And this is what Henry Nowan said: “The word listen in Latin is audire. And then from that word, actually audio, audio system, audio came from audire. Many english words came from Latin. So the word listen in Latin is audire. If we listen with full attention in which we are totally geared to listen it’s called, obaudire. And that’s where the word obedience comes from. So when you carefully listen and hear, then obedience follows.” The obedience doesn’t follow because you don’t hear carefully. So it is very important that we need to know what are the fundamentals. And then we need to continuously meditate on those fundamentals and then see ourselves, examine ourselves whether I am following those fundamentals or not, especially for those who are graduating from high school or university. I want you to keep these fundamentals.
I summarized into 10 the beatitude of the sermon on the mountain. I summarized it into 10. I hope that when you live your lives, you build your life upon these 10 principles, guiding principles. Doesn’t matter where you are. If you keep those guiding principles, then you will make the world a much better place. I don’t think the word that we have created… it’s not the best place.
I mean, we did a good job in some parts, but in other parts, we’re doing a very bad job. I’m really thankful and glad that Germany is taking on so many Syrian refugees. Probably most numbers Canada just doesn’t match up with them. And then I saw one YouTube video and the German people were saying, “Welcome, welcome,” and they had a welcoming package to the Syrian refugees. And they went through so much difficulties and they came to Germany and they gave them a welcome package. I was in tears when I was looked at that on YouTube. We need to make a better world. We as Christians especially should not be influenced by the values of this world. We should live as a human being, a decent human being, not as an animal, not as a materialist. We should live as decent human beings who helps each other. That’s what we are called to do. Let me share those 10 guiding principles that I summarized from Jesus’ teaching on the sermon on the mountain.
First, if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also. We have no room for retaliation. We should not follow all the movies that you see, you know, where they retaliate and they kill off and then you feel good for a while… but that’s how the world becomes worse and worse and worse. And that’s what’s happening in many parts of the world, continuous retaliation. If somebody hits you on the right cheek, turn the other, no choice. That’s what we got to do as a decent human being. That’s what we gotta do as a Christian. You don’t get revenge. You don’t get revenge in whatever way, military way or in a personal way. You don’t get revenge. Somebody hits you on the right cheek. We have to give the other.
Second, love your enemies. You don’t just let them be, but you have to love your enemies. That’s what Jesus said. You have to love those who hate you. You have to love those who hurt you. We have no choice. That’s what Jesus did. That’s our guiding principle. We have no right to hate anyone. We have to love even our enemies.
Number three, do not show off about your piety and your goodness. Piety and goodness are not to show off, like, “Oh, well I’m a man of prayer. Oh, I’m a woman of color or whatever.” Spirituality, nobody should see. Nobody should know how spiritual you are, how religious you are. You don’t show off your piety. You don’t show off your prayer. You don’t show off your almsgiving. Whatever you do with your right hand, your left hand doesn’t know. Christianity or Christian zeal is not about showing off how religious you are.
Next, you cannot serve two masters. God and money… I’m sorry my friends. That’s as simple as that is. You cannot serve two masters. Money is so tempting, so powerful, Jesus put that at the level of God. Either you worship or worship money, you have no choice. Which one are you going to worship? God or money? If you worship God, then you’ll be able to stand through hardships. If you worship money, you will collapse when the hard time comes. Think about it. What is your guiding principle? God, or money?
And next, do not worry, but seek first the Kingdom of God. Tomorrow we don’t know, but God takes care of the birds in the air, the lilies in the field. God has given us so many good things. God will take care of us, do not worry, but now seek first the Kingdom of God. That’s what we do. Seek first the Kingdom of God, the reign of God, justice, love, righteousness. Those are the things that we seek after. Don’t worry about what’s going to happen tomorrow.
Next, do not judge so that you may not be judged. How easily we judge other people. How easily we judge each other… and with the same criteria, you will be judged. Do not judge so that you may not be judged. Always take other people with humility, and a humble attitude.
Next, ask, seek and knock. Always. Our life is about asking. Our life is about seeking. Our life is about knocking continuously, you know? We don’t give up. We continually knock, then the door will be opened. Now, the impossible situation we see in the world – we continuously knock with prayer. Lord, let your justice be done. So, about five years ago, we had a refugee from Afghanistan, and two years ago we started another program for a refugee from Syria. And so right now we are going through the process of application. But the thing is, it takes so long. Two years ago we started, and still they are not here. They have to go through all these red tapes, and we continuously seek for justice of God, for the love we continuously knock at the door.
And in everything do to others as you’d have them do to you… the golden rule. Exactly the same way. You want to be treated with respect and treat others with respect. You want to be loved then love others. That’s how you’ll be treated.
And next, enter through the narrow gate. We are not here for the glory and fame. No, we are not. We are not here for the glory and fame. That should not be your goal. Young people whose goal is to be a celebrity, that should not be your goal. Narrow gate, small road… That’s what we are called to enter through.
And next, be fruitful, always around us with people, church, or wherever you are. Be fruitful. That’s it.
These are the guiding principles. I hope that you internalize these guiding principles in your life so that you build your foundation upon rock, not on sand. May God bless you and congratulations to all those who are graduating. Keep these things in your mind and build your life… and you’ll make this world a better place for everyone.
In this inspiring message, we are reminded of the need to get back to the basics. When the world is telling us which way to go and how to live, it is good to remind ourselves of the basic principles of Christian living.
10 principles that Jesus taught us are:
- If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also
- Love your enemies
- Do not show off your piety and goodness
- You cannot serve two masters: God and money
- Do not worry, but seek first the kingdom of God
- Do not judge so that you may not be judged
- Ask, seek, and knock
- In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you
- Enter through the narrow gate
- Be fruitful
Listen to hear Rev. Kim elaborate on each of these principles and the need to return to basics. May you be blessed by the Word!