I have a love/hate attitude toward ‘Bible stories’. I like them because of how they so easily introduce young children to the power, imagination, and the goodness of their Creator. On the other hand, as an adult I’ve discovered great and (in hindsight) possibly obvious truths I’d been numbed to because I considered some passages of scripture so familiar from my childhood that I neglected to reexamine them from an adult’s perspective. Jesus’ ‘Wise and Foolish Builders’ metaphor is but the latest example.
46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. 48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 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.” Luke 6:46-49
I’ve long been impacted by Luke 6:46. What I’ve never noticed before is that it immediately precedes the wise and foolish builders. Jesus points out the striking irrationality of recognizing Him as Lord, but declining to obey Him. Then He offers the story of the wise and foolish builders as a motivation for our obedience. Jesus paints a picture explaining that God’s commands protect us from the calamity that would otherwise come with the storms of life that arise from time to time.
I found myself caught off guard as I read the passage this time. I notice that Jesus isn’t saying “Obey me because it is right, obey me because I deserve it, obey me because I am God.” He would be justified in saying any of that, and all of it is true. What does He instead choose to say? “Obey me because my commands are a means through which I protect you.”
John 14:21 immediately came to mind.
21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.
It says that:
Obedience to His Commands = Our Love for Him
This relationship is not new to me. However, what I’m seeing in Luke 6 for the first time is that this has a reciprocal equation. As a dad, protecting my family is one of the ways I express my love for them. Therefore, I’m seeing in Jesus’ words:
His Commands = His Love for Us.
(You know you’re an engineer when you can turn Bible verses into equations.)
His commands provide us an outlet for our love for Him, and they are a practical means through which He protects and blesses us. In His demand for our obedience, He’s actually inviting us to let Him love us. Even as He requires from me the obedience He deserves, He’s offering me something I could never deserve.
Dear God, thank you for your commands. Thank you for your protection. Thank you for your love!