Rain on the Just and Unjust

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Photo credit: Daily Express

I recently came across a posting in which the author made a “what I don’t want to happen to me” list, which she rudely titled her “*uck-it” list.  While the swearing is far from my focus here, I did have to reflect on the concept.  What would I have on such a list?  I therefore began the mental exercise to formulate one, and then to note (sadly) that my list is nearly complete.

I came up with about fifteen items, which I have edited down to 10 for this post. So here is my “Please, Not Me” list:

  • Been Shot (if pellet guns count)
  • Been Shot at  (actual firearm)
  • Been Stabbed
  • Had a Heart Attack 
  • Lost a Child
  • Had Cancer (though my wife has)
  • Been made redundant (laid off)
  • Had a car accident
  • Had emergency surgery
  • Been Burgled 

What have I learned from reflecting on this list? Life is not fair, bad things happen to good people, and to ordinary people, and to bad people alike. All of the points on the list are unfortunately part of the human condition.

Jesus recognised this when he told His disciples in Matthew 5: 45 b, “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” This world is not perfect.  This life (despite what many desire) is not an end unto itself. Our daily walk can be, and often is, arduous.

Even the righteous man, Job suffered.  But herein, we have a Spirit inspired lesson to learn. Job discovered that even in hardship. God is still God.  We may want to control our world.  We may want to avoid the items on our anti-bucket list.  But these are not options open to our limited powers.  We need to realise that it is God who is control of the world, and even those pains of life have a purpose.  They may be so that we can grow.  They may be that we let go of our need to control.  They ultimately lead us to rely on Him.

Padre

Cornerstones

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My wife was recently reflecting on one of her studies.  She noted that there are two types of cornerstone. The first cornerstone is a “foundation” stone: the first stone set.  It becomes the base on which all else depends.  It sets the position of the building, and bears the weight of the whole structure above it. The second is a ceremonial cornerstone, this is a block that has no bearing on the foundation and is only cosmetic in nature.  It often bears an inscription such as a date or attests to the ceremonial figure who ordered the construction, or who dedicated it.

In Mark 12, Jesus tells a story about a landlord who sends his son to collect the rents.  The tenants in a vain attempt (both meanings of vain) kill the heir in hope of profiting. He concludes the story with a reference to Psalm 118, when he says:

 “Haven’t you read this passage of Scripture: ‘“The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;  the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes”? (Mark 12: 10 – 11).'”  

The parable and follow-up statement is clear in its meaning.  The religious establishment of the day, rejected the Heir who had come.  They had tried to make the inheritance their own, and in their own image.  They had overlooked the true foundation stone promised by God.

Those however, that were open to God’s message, were able to accept and “be built” upon this true stone. Paul writes,

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.  In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.” (Ephesians 2: 19-21)

The hymn “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less” by Edward Mote picks up on this theme, and offers a well thought out summary:

1. My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

It is like the wise man built on the rock in Matthew 7: 24 -25 ‘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.”

Mote’s hymn captures this as well:

2. When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

Yet many people today build their hope on the facades. The ceremonial “cornerstones” that look impressive with their fine scroll-work (beauty), titles (fame), and the like.  They in trusting in this superficial soon find themselves like Jesus’ “foolish man:”

“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.’ (Matthew 7: 26 – 27).

They choose Mote’s “ground [of] sinking sand.”

My wife observed that grief in life often comes from making our cornerstone one that will not, and often cannot last.  When it is removed we feel the fall of it.  Peace is found, (and often restored after such losses) when Christ the true foundation stone is placed as the cornerstone of our lives (replacing those weaker stones).

Don’t get me wrong here, nothing says that the “ceremonial stones” are not appealing, and often rewarding.  This may be especially true, if the stone is a relationship, or job. Not all such stones are totally devoid of merit.  But in the end only God’s stone will remain.

Are we people built upon the true cornerstone that the builders rejected?  The Heir of the Father?  The one who binds us together, and gives us strength when the pressures are great?  Or, do we like image and the easy approach? A impressive facade to stand behind, that in the end will offer us little protection?  Do we build on strong stones, but ones that will not stand forever? Where is the cornerstone of our lives today?

Padre