Growing up, I lived in a house that should have been condemned. The windows were broken. The walls were cracked. It was deathly hot in the summer and horrendously cold in the winter. The roof leaked (fortunately, the leak was right over the bathtub). The bathroom floor was rotten from water damage. The basement flooded all the time taking out the water heater. The house eventually was condemned and torn down long after I moved out of it. The weird thing is that I miss that house terribly. Almost nightly, my dreams wander back to that house. Whenever I’m in my hometown, I actively avoid that side of the community because I don’t want to see the empty lot where the house once stood. I like to pretend it’s still there. It was a dilapidated piece of junk from the time I was born but it was my house.
We get comfortable in our houses. You kick off your shoes, turn on the tv, sit in YOUR chair. We do stuff in our houses that we wouldn’t do at somebody else’s house. In your house, you have the freedom to change the channel, walk around naked, scream at the wall. You also know the quirks of your house. The living room floor may lean to the north. The oven may heat better on one side than the other. You may have an electrical outlet that doesn’t work.
But what happens when a storm comes? Can your house withstand pouring rain and strong winds? My childhood home barely made it. Thank goodness we never had a tornado. We lived in Kansas after all. What about a fire or an earthquake? Any number of things can strip us of our comfortable surroundings.
Jesus told a parable about houses. In Matthew 7, he says, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
So my question to you is, “What is your house made of?” Obviously, I’m no longer speaking of physical houses. Our homes are extensions of ourselves. They represent our identity, a place we can truly be ourselves or perhaps hide our true self. What do we build that identity on? How easy is it to tear down that identity? I recently read an article that was making the rounds on facebook. It was called, “I Waited Until My Wedding Night to Lose My Virginity, and I Wish I Hadn’t”. Read it here. The author had built her whole identity on being a virgin. When she got married, she could no longer claim to be one. Sex was horrible for her because it took away the identity she had spent years building. Other people create an identity based on all sorts of things. It could be based on their finances, academic success, talents, etc. Other people create negative identities. “I’m an alcoholic.” “I’m worthless.” “I’m an abuser.”
I’m reminds of the Three Little Pigs. Hopefully, we are familiar with the story but if you are not, here’s the basics. There once were three little pigs. To protect themselves from the ravaging wolf, they built themselves houses. The first pig built his house of straw, it was easily blown down by the wolf which then ate the pig. (In other versions, this pig runs to his brother’s house.) The second built his house of sticks. It was also blown down by the wolf which then ate the second pig (or, if you rather, ran to his brother’s house with the first pig). The third pig built his house of bricks. No matter how hard the wolf blew, the house would not come down. The wolf then tried to come through the chimney but there was a fire and a pot of boiling water down below which killed him.
A couple months ago, Holy Spirit started showing me some truth in this famous fairy tale. It culminated yesterday (Sunday) in church. Holy Spirit showed me that this story represents our journey as believers. The first pig builds his house of straw. It is the flimsiest house of all three pigs. He represents the unbeliever. He may even be completely unaware there is an enemy coming to destroy him. He lives blissfully unaware of a world outside his four walls. His identity is built on a faulty foundation. It may be his success, his mind, his negative traits, or his positive traits. The wolf comes and blows through this like a house of cards. The wolf representing the enemy of our souls. Jesus often used the picture of a wolf to represent Satan. He used shepherding metaphors a lot and the biggest enemy of the herd was the wolf.
The first pig can also be likened to the foolish builder who built his house on sand. He does not believe in Jesus and follows his own commands. But since the mind of man is so changeable, it is like sinking sand and his house, or identity, falls apart. The house might stand for 50 years but it will eventually come crashing down.
The second pig is like a new believer. He is eager to please God. He is on a spiritual high. However, he tries to please God through his own works. He knows there is an enemy out there waiting to devour him so he builds a house to protect him. This time, he builds his house of sticks. The enemy has a harder time bringing this house down but it is still easy work for him. God is not “pleased” with our works. He adores belief and rest in his finished work on the cross.
The third pig is wisest of all. He is a mature believer. He builds his house of bricks. Bricks are expensive and must be crafted by skilled laborers. The third pig doesn’t buy them or make them. He finds them. They have been provided to him free of charge. He rests in the finished work of Jesus. All the best materials have been provided. No working to buy them, they are found like pearls in the ocean. The enemy comes along and can’t blow this house down. It is fire, tornado, hurricane, and earthquake proof. The house doesn’t even budge. However, the enemy is crafty and will try to find another entrance. He tries the chimney. What is the chimney? It keeps you warm and you can cook your food there. It is a symbol of the Holy Spirit whose fire is always burning. The wolf is eventually devoured by this flame.
The third pig is like the wise builder in Jesus’ parable. He builds his house out of rock. The wise builder builds his house ON the rock. The enemy comes to destroy it but is unsuccessful. The wise builder follows Jesus commands. However, Jesus’ command is simply to believe. He yoke is easy and his burden light. We simply rest in him and let him work through us. Everything has been provided through his work on the cross.
What is your house made of? Are the storms of life too easily devouring you? Or are you living to please a grumpy god in the sky? Run to your brother’s house before the enemy can devour you! Your brother’s house is made of precious material that can withstand the storms of life. In His house is rest and food for your soul.
“My Father’s house has many rooms (or mansions); if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” John 14:2
“God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,” Ephesians 2:6