Text Matthew 7:21-27
Leaders build. They build a sanctuary in time, a community of joy, and a city on a hill (see previous devotionals). They build a community that is a house on a rock.
Jesus delivers his kingdom manifesto in Matthew 5-7. The manifesto is a brilliant, hopeful, and superb picture of how kingdom people live with each other and in the world. Like Moses, he goes up on a mountain and speaks the ways God’s kingdom people live. As a rabbi, Jesus uses the familiar rhythm of “You have heard it said…but I say to you,”; a rhythm that gives a new interpretation to the words Moses brought from Sinai.
When Jesus concludes his manifesto, he is clear that there are people who say they belong to him but do not. They proclaim they prophesied in Jesus’ name, did miracles, and drove out demons—but Jesus declares they do not belong to his movement. Instead, they are “hoi ergazomenio ten anomian” (those who cause wickedness). Instead of bringing the light and hope that comes in living out Jesus’ kingdom manifesto, they bring wickedness into the world. Their words, miracles, and driving out demons somehow cause wickedness to flourish (cf. Simon the Sorcerer Acts 8, the seven sons of Sceva Acts 19, charlatans etc.).
Contra to those who cause wickedness, there is a people who build life on hearing and doing Jesus’ kingdom manifesto. In his last words, Jesus tells us that both the wise and the foolish have his words. The difference is the wise live out his words, and the foolish do not. The house of the foolish, says Jesus, cannot stand the storms of life—when storms hit, the house comes down with a great crash. What may not occur to us is the foolish (“those who cause wickedness”) have brought others into the house with them. The great crash also crushes them. On the other hand, those who hear and live Jesus’ manifesto have a safe home for all who live there.
Leaders work to build communities that know the words of Jesus, love the words of Jesus, and live out the words of Jesus—for their good and the good of the world. Leaders build Jesus way communities that are a safe house in every kind of weather.
When we ask ourselves at this moment, “What am I building?” may one answer be “a house on a rock.”