We’re All Building Something

By Richard Nelson

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November 22, 2021

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I’m building a house. I was told by several friends that building a home would be one of the most frustrating things I’d ever do. But I relished the challenge: designing and carving out a livable space on my 39 rugged acres in the Bald Knob area of North Franklin County was a dream.

The site workers began leveling the steep ridge smack dab in the middle of my property back in April. In order to level the building site, the steel tracks of the bulldozer sunk deep into the red Kentucky clay while it churned up an occasional boulder. It was a visual metaphor of typical builder obstacles I’d eventually face. Subcontractor no-shows slowed the process and threw a curve in others’ schedules. Substandard work and cost overruns were additional challenges. I got around those frustrations reasonably well. It was something totally unexpected that vexed me: all the imperfections, many caused by yours truly. They happen in every building project, but seeing see them up close and personal bothered me.

The funny thing is, the house looks great at first blush. In fact, you can’t see the imperfections unless you are looking for them. But I still knew that they were there. Further reflection reminded me that the Heavenly Father knows all my flaws and sins. And yet he loves me deeply. In fact, I’m a kind of a building project, and God uses even better tools and materials to mold and shape my soul to be more like Jesus.

Not everyone will experience the joy (or travail) of building their own home. Nonetheless, we’re all involved in another kind of building program, one much more significant. It involves our own lives. Christianity teaches that every person has been made in God’s image. Yet we’re all marred by the Fall. Each of us has imperfections and flaws and sins that sometimes we only know about. Yet when one comes to faith in Christ, they are a new creation with a new identity. No longer does God see an opponent marked by sin and failure, but He sees Jesus in them.

As works in progress, it’s important for each of us to ask: what foundation are we building upon? Scripture teaches that the only firm foundation upon which to build a life is Jesus. “For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 3:11). Such construction built on the most solid of footings will endure the storms of life (Matt. 7:24) And, “Whoever builds upon the rock and believes in Christ will not be put to shame” (I Peter 2:6).

Even if you’re not into taking on the adventure of building your own home, the truth is, we’re all building something of our lives. I framed my home with two by six construction, standing seam metal for the roof, and Hardie board fiber cement siding—all superior materials. In a letter to the church in Corinth, Paul tells the congregation that if “anyone builds on the foundation of Christ using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward” (I Cor. 3:12-15).

Either for good or ill, whether carefully planned or not, the building project of our lives will amount to something. All flaws and failures aside, followers of Jesus know they have a foundation that is rock solid, and the materials He builds us up with will endure the test of time.

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