One of my favorite Bible stories as a child was Jesus’ parable of the wise man and foolish man. We had a song we would sing with hand motions to illustrate the story. An abridged version is below:
The wise man built his house upon the rock…and the rain came tumbling down. The rain came down, and the floods came up, and the wise man’s house stood firm.
The foolish man built his house upon the sand…and the rain came tumbling down. The rain came down, and the floods came up, and the foolish man’s house went “splat!”
Upon singing the word “SPLAT” we would loudly clap our hands. Everyone liked that part. The focus of the parable and the song teaches a central theme of scripture: God has provided a foundation for mankind.
Beginning last century the world integrated a radically new system of thinking into its mind. Proponents of this new system dubbed it “relativism” because its primary premise is “all things and truths are relative”. Modern universities operate almost exclusively under this radical system that has deconstructed centuries of thinking almost overnight.
The primary issue with relativism is its lack of a tethered foundation. If all truth is relative then nothing is true and all things become meaningless. Jean-Paul Sartre, the well known existentialist, lamented “I am condemned to be free”. Sartre saw man’s freedom as a curse because we were without moorings, without a tethered foundation, without a way to define terms so we were left to define life for ourselves. In his work Characterizations of Existentialism he said,
In a world, man must create his own essence: it is in throwing himself into the world, suffering there, struggling there, that he gradually defines himself.
With no tethered foundation, no absolute truth to look back to or lean upon, Sartre rightly concludes what Jesus already taught centuries earlier. When we build our thinking, our house, upon relativistic, shifting sand, when the rains come…”SPLAT!”
Despite Sartre’s, and many others, assertions, untethered thinking really does not exist. When building mental constructs we all return and rely upon proven or trusted concepts to define our thinking. As we venture forth into the realm of thought we tether our thinking back to ideas and concepts we have already tested. Science has shown this pattern to be true in the way we build and construct new patterns across the brain as we learn new concepts. If we all tether our thinking back to something then the something, the foundational concepts, we build upon are the vital components of our worldview.
Sartre stated above that when man faced trials he was forced to define himself according to his own terms. Consider the opening sentence of the letter of James in the New Testament:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
Sartre and James would have much to discuss! How wildly different are their conclusions! Sartre saw only pain and randomness in trials while James saw meaning and purpose.
For Christians this is vitally important. We are not adrift on the sea of ideas with nothing to tether ourselves to. James understood this intuitively as he follows his opening sentence with this one:
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
CHRIST OUR ROCK
Jesus is our rock upon which we rest. Wise people build upon His revealed truth and wisdom and enter into relationship with God to receive further truth and wisdom. If we lack wisdom we need only to ask and believe and we will receive wisdom from God Himself. How beautifully reassuring this is for the believer!
Yet it should also bring hope and assurance to the non-believer because there is a message of truth that brings freedom from worry and confusion. Our world does not have to be a series of random, undefinable events simply happening to the individual. We have access to the Creator to inject meaning, beauty, hope, peace, love, and truth into our lives. We have a foundation to tether our thinking.
When we are tethered to Christ, the Solid Rock, we will face trials but we will persevere. We will be beaten but we will survive. We will be shaken but we will not break. We will face trials of many kinds but we will not lose hope because we are tethered to the rock. The rains will come down, but there will never be a “SPLAT!” because Jesus will never abandon us or forsake us.
Our hope is in the strength and truth of Christ. We do not hope in ourselves, but only and always in Him alone who created all things and in whom all things are revealed. I titled this post “How Firm a Foundation” and I close with the final verse from that wonderful hymn.