In this present age, our foundations are shaken. In recent days our foundations have been shaken daily. Why is this issue of “foundations” so important? It is because “foundations” are what we trust in. It is that simple as a concept. When you talk about foundations, you are talking about something to trust in. In Matthew 7: 24-27, Jesus explained this issue in terms of where you build your house, on the sand or on the rock. He was talking about what you trust in. Today, we don’t have much rock in much of the country, but we do have concrete, and it is about as hard and durable as rock. But Jesus was getting at something deeper and more important than our physical houses. He was really getting at our spiritual houses. Here is what Jesus said, Therefore, whoever hears these sayings
of Mine, and does them I will liken to a wise man who built his house on the rock, and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, and it fell. And great was its fall.
In describing the rain, the floods and the winds, Jesus was describing things that would shake the house, would push, pull, twist and contort it to stress it into instability and collapse.
People today are constantly wondering about the stability of our economic system, of our values, of our way of life – here in America and as they look around the world. What they are doing is talking about trust – whether those systems can be trusted to meet their expectations. And many of these people frequently ask me if we have passed the point of no return in the culture in which we live. In other words, they are asking the question of whether our foundations have been shaken apart so that the foundations of our American culture have, in fact, been destroyed.
Regardless whether we are living in America or anywhere else in the world, we need to look beyond the physical and into
the spiritual in all circumstances. We need to understand two principles, two pillars that are foundational to the structure of our lives: (1) Trust in God through Jesus Christ, not ourselves; (2) Trust in God’s provision for us, not in man’s provision for us (whether the man be us, someone else or, particularly, the government of men).
Samson (see, Judges 16), took hold of the two middle pillars of the pagan temple in which he was imprisoned, and he pulled those pillars down, after praying in his blindness and weakness for God to strengthen him. When Samson pulled those two pillars down, the whole pagan temple fell, killing not only Samson, but also killing the pagan leadership and pagan worshippers. Those two pillars were foundational to the structure of that pagan temple and also foundational to that pagan culture. When they fell down, the rest collapsed.
There is an analogy there, in what Samson, in his blindness focused on: that pagan temple, its leaders and people and culture were entrusted to two pillars. Our way of life as Christians and to the extent that our nation was and/or is Christian, has been entrusted to two pillars: (1) Trust in God through Jesus Christ, not ourselves; (2) Trust in God’s provision for us, not in man’s provision for us (whether the man be us, someone else or, particularly, the government of
men). To pull down our society’s foundations, Satan has only to pull down these two pillars of our society’s historical underpinnings, and he has been doing so by his incessant attack, constantly shaking our spiritual house, as a nation and as individual Christians.
Now, Samson’s was a pagan culture. We have accustomed ourselves by tradition to believe that we in America live in a Christian culture, not a pagan culture. The facts are telling us otherwise, that we do live, here, in what has become in my generation a pagan culture. As they say in and of Europe, then it can well be argued that we, too, live in a post-Christian culture here in America. That is bad and sad, and it tells us how badly the foundational pillars of our culture have been shaken.
Psalm 11:3 asks the question that burns on our hearts, as we look at the foundational structure of the culture in which we are Christians: If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous to do?
Our political leaders believe that our economic foundation has been secured this week by putting a mere bandage on the problem and leaving it to be solved ten years from now, when most of them will no longer be in office. They follow that adage of, “take two aspirin and if you don’t feel better in ten years, call back and we will try to think of something else.” They believe that it makes sense to run the economic foundation of this country on the premise that the government takes in two hundred billion dollars a month from its tax payers and spends three hundred seventy-nine billion dollars a month. They trust in riches that are not there and they want us to share that deception with them.
How did this happen and is there a solution? It happened because of one thing: we quit trusting God and started trusting the government and our own selves. The solution is to quit trusting our own selves and to get back, quickly, to trusting God. Paul was very concerned about this issue, explaining to the Corinthians (II Corinthians 1: 9), Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises from the dead. In this passage, Paul is reminding the believers in Corinth, and reminding us as we re- read this passage, that the sin in us has made us dead and only the Spirit of Christ living in us gives us life. In Paul’s teaching, in Romans 8:2, 6-13, he expounded on this issue, writing: For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death . . . . So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you (the believers in the Church of Rome) are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His (Christ’s). And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors – not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
In I Timothy 6: 17-19, Paul was teaching this same principle to Timothy, in these words: Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
Jesus teaches that it is not money that is evil but the love of it, because Jesus understood that we will serve what, and whom, we love. In Luke 16:13, Jesus pronounced, No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Paul wrote to Timothy, I Timothy 6:10, For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness . . . .
Neither Jesus nor Paul condemned money, earthly riches if you will, in itself. Rather their concern was in our trust in the money, in the earthly riches, because it takes our focus off of God’s provision for us, and for mankind, and therefore causes us to stray from our faith. In I Timothy 6: 17 ff, that we read earlier, Paul did not say for the rich to give their money away just to give it away. He said to command them not to be haughty (arrogant, prideful, above the need for God), and not to trust in their riches because they were “uncertain”. That means, “uncertain”, that those riches could not be trusted, that trust in those riches was misplaced. Rather, Paul taught Timothy, command those rich people to trust in God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.
Jesus and Paul were well aware of the importance of the foundational pillar of provision — do we trust in the provision or the provider, God?
In my reading this week, I was reminded of the second foundational pillar of our trust in God, through Christ, in all things, not just provisions. This week, I have been reading of the covert activities of the CIA and the Army’s Special Forces in Afghanistan, immediately after Sept 11, 2001 and for months ensuing. Of interest was that our forces there were small and under-equipped, and so they rode horseback, like old calvary, to and into battle with the Taliban. But what has struck me was their training to “Trust No One” but each other. They were taught, in that most hostile and foreign of environments, not to trust the locals, none of them, even if they seemed friendly, and even if they had so far proven themselves to be friendly.
We, too, live in a most hostile and foreign environment. We are strangers here, aliens here, just sojourners passing through, as Scripture says. We can’t trust our government, and we can’t trust most of the people we know. We in the true church of Jesus Christ, just like those 21st century Amerian horse soldiers in Afghanistan, however, can trust each other – to a point – but we, like that calvary, can trust in God through Jesus Christ. Our country has come a long way, downhill, since we thought it important to inscribe on our money, “In God we Trust”.
We can’t change the country, here in Beaufort and Jasper County, but we can check our hearts, where our treasure really is, as we really live and speak from the fullness of our hearts. We can examine ourselves and verify – correcting as necessary – that our foundational trusts are not misplaced, that we are trusting in the two foundational pillars of (1) God, through Jesus Christ, and His spirit living in us, and (2) that we are trusting in God’s provision of all things for us to enjoy.