28 Feb Falling Down on the Job
I have never travelled to the Holy Land or Egypt. These areas are such historic locations, and I hope to travel there one day. For now, pictures and stories about those sites will have to do. I pass by one such picture every week, and I have always wondered about it. So, I decided to look it up.
Ramesses II was the Pharaoh around the 13th Century B.C.E. He had a great deal of construction projects during his reign. One of his greatest projects consisted of two temples carved into a mountainside in Abu Simbel, which was located on the Nile River near modern-day Aswan. The great temple had not one, but four identical, large sculptures of Ramesses himself sitting on a throne. While Ramesses had complete control of the design, he hasn’t been able to control the longevity.
Three of the four sculptures are still roughly intact, but one gave up the ghost a long time ago. That is what always gets my attention when I see that picture: the contrast of the three kings sitting on their thrones and the other facedown in the sand. The upper body is no longer in position as the other three stare off into the distance.
Ramesses was very proud of his accomplishments, and he wanted everyone to know about it. No matter how successful he was as a king and warrior, he could not control what happened after he died. None of us can.
Jesus describes everyone who hears His words and acts on them as “A wise man who built his house on a rock” and those who don’t act on them as being “like a foolish man who built his house on the sand” (Matthew 7:24-27). When the storms of life come, one house will stand and the other will not. One house will remain rock-solid and one will collapse in a heap.
We have the opportunity to hear the message of Jesus in His own words many Sundays, but we can read them every day in the Bible if we choose. Even the foolish man heard Jesus’ words, but it’s the second part we need to focus on: acting on His words. Action is the result of the transformation Jesus initiates in us.
When I think about the church world, I would love it if we had the same kind of success rate as the temple in Abu Simbel: three out of four survived. At times, I feel like we may be the other way around: one out of four. We’re hearing the words of Jesus, but are we acting on them? Is the ground shifting below us?
Jesus ended “The Sermon on the Mount” with the parable about wise and foolish people. Matthew tells us, the people were amazed at Jesus’ teaching because of the way He spoke: with authority. That is what sets Jesus apart—His authority was eternal. There would be no shifting in the sands of time; Jesus’ words are still true and they are life-giving. May we act on those words this and every day.
Blessings to you,