Beginning to Build part I

If the Pharisees had felt energized as opposed to threatened by learning things they didn’t know or if they had understood that the Savior’s principles could remain the same even if the outward expression of them looked different, they may have been able to see Him.   In other words, if they had had a relationship with Christ, they probably would’ve, at least faintly, recognized His principles in action.   I sincerely believe that Heaven operates by a handful of key spiritual principles which are manifest in a myriad of mortal observances.  And as we come to know the Savior those principles become more defined.  But the Pharisees had relied on their actions almost exclusively and when it came to recognizing the Savior those actions weren’t enough.  It seems heartbreaking that they could watch the sacrifice of animal after animal under the Law of Moses and then witness the crucifixion without even a twinge of familiarity.

I think the parable of the wise man and foolish man can illustrate the difference between lonely actions and actions tied to relationships:

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

And the rain descended and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. (Matt 7:24-27)

If we’re going to invest the time and resources into building a house, especially one that we want to occupy and invite others into, it would be wise to identify the most solid foundation possible.  I imagine we’d look for something steady, something that will only change minimally over the passage of time.  For the Pharisees, the foundation was all of the tiny little things that they did in the name of religion.  They built on the sand which may have come from the rock but was not ever going to be the rock.  The acts were a mortal cue for their spirits to seek Him, to understand Him and build their lives on that knowledge of Him, not solely on His rules.

That foolish man the Savior spoke about, I don’t think he started out foolish.  His foolishness was only revealed when the storms came.  Perhaps the blurry line between the place where the infinite slab of rock ended and the sand started was hard to identify so it was hard to know where to build.  And maybe the foolish man had some concerns about the steadfastness of his dwelling or maybe he’d experienced some slight shifting but it wasn’t until the large challenge came that he realized his foundation was simply unequal to the demands of a heavy storm.  I’d like to think that after that awful storm, when he sat in the ruin of his house, he gave himself some space to come to terms with what had just happened.  Sometimes tumultuous storms strip away the periphery of life so completely that we are left with a focus on the things which are the most important…which oftentimes are our relationships.  Amidst the devastation of his surroundings,  it seems like the once-foolish man would have a choice to make. He could give up and determine that rebuilding wasn’t worth the effort for something that could be so easily destroyed.  Did he walk away feeling understandably frustrated, angry or betrayed?   Or did he look around and realize he could try again?

 

11 Comments on “Beginning to Build part I

  1. Beautifully written. Thank goodness we can try again. I like to call this the do doctrine. It’s not enough to hear; we have to do the will of The Lord too.

  2. I am reading Elder Bednar’s book called, “Increase in Learning.” In it, he differentiates between knowledge, understanding, and intelligence. He explains knowledge is acquired by diligent study, and understanding comes as the Holy Ghost carries that learning into our heart. But, intelligence is what comes when we faithfully obey the teachings planted in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. I think it is easy to get hung up on the idea of gaining knowledge, but fail to follow through to the understanding and intelligence part. This kind of brought new meaning to the scripture in D&C (and lots of other scriptures that refer to intelligence) that says the “glory of God is intelligence,” meaning, we glorify God when we use our agency to learn and practice His teachings, therefore bringing us nearer to Him, and our lives more closely resemble His. When you shared about the wise man and the foolish man, it made me think of those principles, because the Savior says, whosoever heareth these sayings of mine and DOETH them…it’s the doing that is the culmination of learning, but the caveat is the spirit. The pharisees were doing plenty of things, but without the spirit of Christ. If we can live and learn so that we have the Holy Ghost with us, then I think we’re on the rock, no matter what stage of construction we are in.

  3. I love the idea of the foolish man rebuilding. Thank you for that. I can relate to the foolish man, watching less important things in my life wash away during certain seasons. Elder Bednar’s book sounds intriguing. I’d love to hear more about it.

  4. Lis, I like that way of thinking of it, thanks for taking the time to write your thoughts. I like the idea of learning being the keystone of understanding. And I think when we start to act, we start to learn and as we learn through step and misstep, we continue to get comfortable with a principle. I love the idea that any learning through the spirit is building on the rock. The Savior tells the Pharisees they are “whited sepulchures, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” (Matt 23:27). I am like that sometimes, and you’re right, it’s when I’m not operating with the Spirit in my life or day or hour, whatever. I can sound/look right but if my heart and or intent are off target, I lose my perspective. I’m interested in that book too, it sounds really insightful.

  5. Ooh, Anne Marie, your phrasing opened up a whole new avenue of thought for me. I appreciate your perspective about seasons of life, your wisdom is uplifting to me.

  6. Pingback: Beginning to Build part II | Extending Understanding

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  8. Pingback: Beginning to Build part IV | Extending Understanding

  9. Pingback: Beginning to Build VII: Practical closing thoughts | Extending Understanding

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