Kingdom People – Code Compliant
In the mid-80s, my wife Jane and I planted a new church in a rapidly growing town near Tulsa, Oklahoma. Due to an oil boom, houses were springing up everywhere, and it seemed as though there was no stopping the economic impact of rising oil prices. Then, prices dropped dramatically, and the boom went bust.
As people started losing their jobs, homes were left in the hands of banks, and optimism began to fade. But a more serious challenge lurked below the surface. During the time homes were being built quickly, some unethical builders perpetrated a scam. They placed the proper metal reinforcements within the stem walls of homes, but when the inspectors left they removed them before pouring the concrete foundations. Then they reused the same reinforcements for the next home, and the next, and the next. As banks started taking possession of homes, they realized many of them had developed serious cracks, turning an economic crisis into a community disaster.
The Bible is filled with good advice on the importance of good foundations. Most local governments have some sort of codes and compliance department that attempts to identify illegal construction before it becomes systematic. God knows, just as some unscrupulous builders may try to get around good practices to make a fast buck, it is human nature to build spiritual towers on weak foundations.
In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave the following lesson: “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.” (Matthew 7:24-27)
When it comes to codes and compliance, the spiritual code for believers is “the Word of God”, and the sign of compliance is “application.” We hear God’s Word and put it into practice. Only then can we guarantee our foundation is firm enough to withstand the forces of life.
Just like the builders in our Oklahoma town, it is tempting to circumvent a good spiritual foundation. The possibilities are endless. We can brush over God’s Word and fail to establish a sustainable study plan. We can shun the local church body in favor of a Christian organization where we have no accountability or responsibility to others – a decision that can stunt our emotional growth and produce an inflated view of our role in the kingdom. And we can resist the investment of our personal resources in kingdom work, which plays into our culture’s tendency toward self-absorption.
What do you think happens when the storms of life start pounding against a life that is unfamiliar with God’s truth, has an immature attitude toward the Lord church, and fails to see present circumstances in light of eternity? That’s right. In the words of a children’s song I learned many years ago, “the house on the sand goes splat!”
I think, perhaps, the Holy Spirit is our Codes and Compliance Officer. Surely, He is one with the Father and Son, but His role in scripture does appear to be one of convicting, prodding and transforming. I sense the Spirit calling me out when I try to circumvent good building practices: “Hey Larry, are you sure you want to do that? You’ll be sorry!”
Of course, the Bible doesn’t call the Holy Spirit an Officer, but I do believe He constantly reminds us to build our lives on a firm spiritual foundation. Then we will produce a bumper crop for Jesus, our Fruit Inspector. But that’s another metaphor for another time.
The important thing is to be compliant. The Lord wants His kingdom to be filled with mature believers, and we know maturity is something that can’t be rushed, or cheated. If we try, we are only cheating ourselves, and when the rains come, we might go “splat!” We don’t want to go “splat!”