“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”(Mt 7:24-27)Discussing this, the second half of yesterday's gospel reading, our assistant pastor spoke in his sermon about conforming our wills to God's law, versus trying to create our own laws. Rock, he said, is hard and immovable. If we build the houses of our lives on the stone foundation of God's law, we have to conform how we live our lives to how God tells us the human person works. Sand, on the other hand, is easily shapeable. In building on the sand of our own preferences, we can mold the sand into whatever shape we desire -- and yet the sand because it is malleable will just as easily flow or crumble out of shape. By imagining that we can create our own moral world, that acts according to our own desires, we set ourselves up for collapse.
Thinking about this metaphor, it struck me that there is another danger, particular to those of us who identify very clearly, even publicly, with our faith. Because although rock is indeed hard and solid, it can be carved and tunneled through. Having gone and very obviously built our house on a rock outcrop, we then immediately suffer the temptation to tunnel out a few cellars and extra rooms under the house. No one can see these from the outside. The appearance of a house built on a firm foundation is maintained. But these private tunnels can, in time, come to undercut the house so much that the apparently firm house is in danger of collapsing.