In my mind is etched this tragedy which happened on my way to school in either kindergarten or first grade. In my eyes, I had built this absolutely awesome Lego house of random bricks. It had four multicolored walls, a door, and even some windows. I had built it and wanted to show it off at school during show-n-tell. I don’t remember how it happened exactly, but by the time I got to school, my house had imploded. It looked like a bomb had gone off and it was totally destroyed. I was devastated to say the least! And what made this horrible situation even worse was that I wasn’t allowed to put it back together. So what did I have for my show-n-tell??? A pile of Lego bricks.
Besides being in my backpack or me tripping and dropping my Lego house … there was another flaw with it. At the time I didn’t understand the concept of overlapping your bricks. I just built my walls straight up. Needless to say, it wouldn’t have and it didn’t take much for those walls to fall in and break.
When it comes to building a house or some other kind of structure, you can’t just build them wherever you want, with whatever materials you want, and however you want. Just think about the Three Little Pigs. The house of straw and the house of sticks built by the first two little pigs didn’t stand a chance against the huffing and puffing of the big bad wolf. Look at the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Because of the horrible foundation it was built upon, it started to sink and lean. If it wasn’t for some marvelous stabilizing work back in the 1990’s, the Leaning Tower of Pisa would have ended up lying on its side looking like my imploded Lego house.
We can easily take this and apply it to our lives. Our lives are built upon the knowledge of the things we have learned from the time we were born. We don’t know how to run until after we learn to walk. We don’t learn to multiply or divide numbers until after we learn to add and subtract. We don’t know what is right without learning from what it is wrong or what it is we have done wrong. The experiences of life continue to build upon each other.
But what good is a life built upon knowledge and life experiences if the foundation of that life is unstable? If the foundation is weak, life will lean this way or that way and when something devastating happens, something which rocks our foundation … our lives are going to implode, come crumbling down and be nothing but a disorganized pile of rubble.
It’s important to have a firm foundation. And this is why things like being in church, Sunday School and Bible class are important. This is why being in God’s Word is important. This is why things like Confirmation is important. I’ve been asked by confirmands over the years, “Pastor, why do we have to go through three years of confirmation classes when our friends only go through a couple of sessions or do it all in one day?” My response … I ask them if their friends can tell you what it is that they believe?
You see, before Jesus ascends into heaven, he tells the disciples to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20a). Teach them! Confirmation is just one of those ways in which we do what Jesus say, we teach. We teach not just what Martin Luther wrote down in the Small Catechism, but we teach what it is that Luther developed the Small Catechism from, we teach what God’s Word says.
Those words … that is what Jesus is talking about in the Gospel reading. “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a man who built his house on the rock” (7:24). The solid foundation is the Word of God. The written Word of God found in the Bible, but also the Living Word of God, who is Jesus. If you just hear the Word and not put it into practice, if you don’t live it out … then you are building your life on a very weak foundation which will crumble the at the first thing which rocks it.
Our lives, could easily look like my house of imploded Legos. Our lives could very easily look like the straw and stick built houses of the Three Little Pigs. But we are not individuals living in isolation from one another. We were created to live within a community. God said of Adam back in Genesis 2 that “it is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (2:18). God brought the other creatures before Adam to see what he would name them, but still no suitable helper was found. So God put Adam to sleep and from Adam’s rib, God made woman, the perfect and suitable helper for Adam. Since then, mankind has relied on each other, they have leaned on each other for strength and support. We see this throughout the rest of the Old and New Testament.
Peter takes this idea one step farther. Peter says that you are a stone, that you are a living stone. A stone by itself is just a stone. But when a group of stones are put and held together … they can make something miraculous.
Peter says in our text, “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). If you are a living stone, built into a spiritual house … then that means that your life … it’s not about you … it’s about Jesus. One of the questions the confirmands are asked is this … “Do you intend to live according to the Word of God, and in faith, word, and deed to remain true to God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, even to death?” It’s not about you or me as individuals … it’s about God, it’s about Jesus. This is why Peter says that those who believe in Jesus will never be put to shame (2:6).
You will not and cannot be put to shame in the Christian life if you believe in the Rock, in the solid foundation, which is Jesus Christ. Sure, some will question you, some will call you a hypocrite, some will challenge you in your beliefs, things will happen to you which will try to shake your foundation, things will happen to others who you love which will try to shake your foundation. It may feel as if Jesus is nowhere to be found, that He has totally abandoned you. But let me tell you from personal experience … He has not and He will not.
When those times come, and they will come … remember your baptism. Remember how you were given by God the precious gift of the Holy Spirit who lives within you. Remember that you are a Child of God. As you come to the rail and receive Holy Communion, heaven is touching earth as you are receiving the very body and blood of Jesus in, with, and under this bread and wine. We partake of this heavenly food for the forgiveness of our sins and to be strengthened in our faith.
You are part of a community, part of a family. Peter says, “you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God” (2:9-10a).
Leaning towers, blown over houses of straw and stick, imploded piles of Lego bricks … you will experience hard times. Life is not just a simple stroll through a garden of flowers and singing birds. As you journey, remember who you are. You are chosen by God, a part of His holy nation, and you are a forgiven and redeemed child of God. Remember that you are not alone for you have each other and you have God living with you, who is with you wherever it is that you go! Lean on Him, lean on each other, trust in God and you will forever stand on the solid Rock, which is Christ Jesus. Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, our Rock of Salvation, now and forever. Amen.