Many people are familiar with the fable of the three little pigs. The story begins with three adolescent pigs leaving the safety of home to establish themselves. Now independent, each pig has to figure out how to make it through life. As the story goes, they all built homes; the first pig built his house with sticks, the second with straw and the third with bricks. Thereafter, the resilience of each house was tested by a wolf seeking to devour its occupants. The pigs who built their homes with sticks and straw fell victim to the wolf. While the house built with bricks withstood the attempts of the wolf to destroy it and consume its occupant.
It might be a stretch, but I see in this story something of a Christian message. We all have beliefs which we build our lives on, whether we choose to acknowledge them or not. The real question is, will those beliefs withstand the challenges of life? Will our house withstand the inevitable raging storms of life? Make no mistake, the storms will come – that’s guaranteed. Jesus preached what I believe is the greatest sermon on morality [Matthew 5-7]. He essentially gave us the roadmap to an abundant, fulfilling life. However, He ended the sermon with an ominous warning, unequivocally stating that anyone who listens to Him and does what He says will be like a wise man. A man who builds his house on a rock, a house able to withstand the greatest storms. While anyone who doesn’t listen to him will be a foolish man who builds his house on sand, a house unable to withstand storms [Matthew 7:24-28].
Only Jesus could have preached this sermon. He starts with teaching about those who attain supreme blessedness and how they ought to represent Him to the world. He then proceeds to teach on anger, lust, conflict resolution, integrity, contracts, revenge, love, generosity, prayer, hypocrisy, fasting, forgiveness, wealth, idolatry, anxiety, judging others, and the basic needs of life. In essence, He teaches us how we ought to relate to God, others and material things through the circumstances of life we face. He says in effect, “this is how to live your life”. These tenets presented by Jesus are the foundations of a life built on a rock. Living any other way, is quite simply, building your house on sand.
As I said earlier, we all have presuppositions about life. Sadly, many assume that they are self-sufficient. They say: “I decide how I want to live my life and no one can tell me otherwise”. As such, when they hear the words of Jesus, they simply ignore them. The irony is that God is El Shaddai which means all-sufficient One. He alone is self-sufficient. It is we who are dependent on Him for every breath we take [Acts 17:24-28]. We are reliant on the sun, the moon, oxygen, water, plants, and so on to survive. Yet, we can only harness their power; we don’t control them. This is not the case with God. He requires nothing to exist. Instead, He controls all that we need to survive. Nature frequently reminds us that we are not God, yet we often try to live as though we’re masters of our destiny. If Jesus is who He says He is, then how utterly foolish of us to dismiss His words? How could that possibly end well for us?
Some don’t take Jesus at His word. That’s just as bad as ignoring Him. Sadly, this happens in the Church amongst Christians. We find ways to exonerate ourselves when we fall short of the standards set by Jesus. Falling short isn’t the problem, God is always willing to forgive us and help us back on our feet if we acknowledge our failings. The real problem is when we refuse to acknowledge that we have fallen short of His standards. We tell ourselves no one could live up to what Jesus preached, as such, we don’t bother trying. Ask yourself, did Jesus mean what He said? Would He have asked us to do something He knew we were incapable of? If so, what sort of Saviour would that make Him?
Some of us simply assume Jesus is right. We believe His teachings are the tenets to live by. We accept that He meant what He said, and He expects us to obey Him. Nevertheless, we fall short over and over again. It’s a wonderful thing that Jesus never says “you’ve fallen short too many times; I’m done with you”. He doesn’t love us any less despite our failures. Instead, He invites us to dig the foundations of our lives past the layers of self-determination, self-aggrandizement, self-sufficiency, the layers of criticism, rejection, guilt and shame until we hit the bedrock of grace. We are to lay our foundations firmly in that bedrock and thus, become completely dependent on the grace of God. We are to embrace our humble attempts to live as God intends [Zechariah 4:10], knowing that its God Himself who works in us to transform us into who He intends us to be [Philippians 2:13].
Our presuppositions usually align us with one of the three little pigs. Like the pigs, we will also encounter wolves. The wolves may come in the guise of loss of status or income, the breakdown of a relationship, an illness or some other calamity and these calamities will certainly test our character and integrity. How we respond will be dependent on our beliefs and worldview. We will either overcome the calamities or be overwhelmed by them. Those are the only possible outcomes. So, what presuppositions do you build your life on? Have you ever questioned them? What will happen to you when the wolves come?