I am building a house. Several friends have told me that building a house would be one of the most frustrating things I would ever do. But I relished the challenge: Designing and landscaping living space on my 39 rugged acres in the Bald Knob area of North Franklin County was a dream.
Site workers began leveling the steep ridge in the middle of my property in April. In order to level the job site, the bulldozer’s steel tracks sank deep into the Kentucky red clay as it lifted an occasional boulder. It was a visual metaphor for the typical builder hurdles I would eventually face. The absences of the subcontractors slowed down the process and upset the schedules of others. Sub-standard work and cost overruns presented additional challenges. I got over those frustrations pretty well. It was something totally unexpected that upset me: all the imperfections, many caused by yours. They happen in every construction project, but seeing them up close and personally bothered me.
The funny thing is that the house looks great at first glance. In fact, you can’t see blemishes unless you look for them. But I still knew they were there. Further reflection reminded me that Heavenly Father knows all of my faults and sins. And yet he loves me deeply. In fact, I’m 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 work) of building their own house. However, we are all involved in a different kind of building program, much more important. It involves our own lives. Christianity teaches that each person was made in the image of God. Yet we are all spoiled by the Fall. Each of us has imperfections, flaws and sins that sometimes we only know. Yet when it comes to faith in Christ, they are a new creation with a new identity. God no longer sees an adversary marked by sin and failure, but He sees Jesus in them.
As the work progresses, it is important that each of us ask ourselves: on what basis are we building? The scriptures teach that the only solid foundation on which to build a life is Jesus. “For no one can lay any other foundation than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 3:11). Such a building built on the strongest foundations will endure the storms of life (Matthew 7:24 And, “Whoever builds on rock and believes in Christ will not be ashamed” (I Peter 2: 6).
Even if you don’t like to go on the adventure of building your own home, the truth is, we all build something with our own lives. I framed my house with two-by-six construction, standing seam metal for the roof, and Hardie panel fiber cement siding – all premium materials. In a letter to the church in Corinth, Paul told the congregation that if “someone builds on the foundation of Christ using gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, for the day will bring it to light. It will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test the quality of everyone’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward ”(I Cor. 3: 12-15).
RICHARD NELSON is Executive Director of The Commonwealth Policy.