Parable of Foundational Maintenance
Two brothers worked to build identical houses for their families across the street from one another. They had a hand in all the construction. From preparing the land, to laying the foundation, to putting up the walls, putting the roof on, and building it out. Both houses were new, beautiful, and strong. The work of two diligent, careful, skilled craftsmen. Each brother had a son who inherited the home at their passing.
The son who lived on the west side of the road had learned from his father about maintaining the house; in particular, the foundation. The son was careful not to plant trees too close to the home so that roots would not grow and break the foundation. The son inspected the foundation regularly and immediately fixed any cracks with the proper epoxy. The son watered the foundation regularly to ensure the soil was properly moist around the house. He invested time and money in preserving the home.
His cousin who lived on the east side of the road did not learn to care for his home in the same way. He planted beautiful oak trees 4 feet from the edge of the house. He never inspected the foundation. He never watered the foundation. But he too, did invest money in his house. As cracks began to appear on the floor tiles he tore them out and replaced the flooring with top-of-the-line expensive carpet. When the walls began to crack, he spent money on exquisitely crafted paneling to cover them. When his kitchen counters began to slant, he replaced them with granite and leveled it out. He spent a lot of time and money on everything… except the foundation – the root cause of all the problems. A lot of beautiful upgrades, but never dealing with the source of his home’s deterioration.
After several years a great storm came through. The son who lived on the West side of the road fared well – as his house stood strong. His cousin who lived on the East side did not fare so well – as the house fell upon them during the great storm.
The moral of the parable is not to neglect “the foundation”. The foundation is the most important part of the house. It’s what keeps it all together. It’s what keeps it standing. While caring for a foundation on a home may not be very “fun” or “exciting”, it is absolutely necessary to preserve the investment. While you don’t want to look at the foundation so much that you miss other repairs needed to the home, you NEVER want to neglect the foundation because that leads to costly disastrous results.
In the parable, the two brothers could be compared to two evangelists who start a work of the Lord’s church in two neighboring communities. Both men, laying the foundation of Christ as described in I Corinthians 3:10-11. They both build up the churches upon the foundational teachings of Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:24-27) where Christ is the cornerstone (Matthew 16:18; I Peter 2:6) and head of the church (Ephesians 5:1:22-23). The churches had a strong foundation of faith. But what about the next generation?
The house on the West side is compared to the church that had the foundational teachings carried down, just as prescribed in the bible (II Timothy 2:1-2). The church was full of those who “ought to” be able to teach (Hebrews 5:12). Never hesitant to remind the brethren of these foundational teachings (often referred to as “first principles”) (Hebrews 6:1-3; Philippians 3:1; II Peter 1:12; 3:1). Though problems may have arisen from time to time in that church; the evangelists, pastors, and teachers (Ephesians 4:11-13) had served a steady diet of foundational teaching that would help ensure the salvation of those souls (I Timothy 4:16). Problems were dealt with properly – by going back to the foundational teaching of God’s word. Continual “foundational maintenance” – is what helped preserve the church and allow it to grow.
The house on the East side could be compared to a church that is not devoted to “foundational maintenance”. They want the sermons to be “fun” and “exciting” or “entertaining”. They want the sermons to be light and fluffy ALL the time. They don’t want those “boring” and/or repetitive sermons on topics like “creation”, “baptism”, “Once Saved. Always Saved.”, “Vices: Dancing, Drinking, Gambling”, “Marriage, Divorce, and Re-marriage”, “Church Organization and Work”, etc. etc. As problems arise in this church, the church is ill-equipped to handle them because their foundation has fallen into disrepair.
When the storms of false doctrines come forcefully blowing across the area one day (because they ALWAYS DO!!!), then which church is likely to stand faithful, and which is likely to be torn asunder by false teaching (Ephesians 4:14-15; II Timothy 2:11-19)???
In the church, “Practical Application” sermons can certainly be all the rage. And while there is a time and place for them, it is not to be to the neglect of the “doctrinal matters” upon which our faith is to be based. Have you ever heard a preacher begin to talk about the “Plan of Salvation” and you begin thinking to yourself “Not this again!”, or “I already know all there is to know on this”, or “This topic is soooo boring”, etc.??? Well, this ought not to be our attitude. Every sermon doesn’t have to be some “#motivational-speaking-rahrah-you-can-do-it-let’s-all-get-to-heaven” pep rally sermon. It shouldn’t be. It CAN’T be… if the church is to survive and thrive as Christ intended.
Let us remember the moral of the story. The one house didn’t fall because the son didn’t take care of it; invest time and money in it. The house fell because he invested in it to the NEGLECT of what mattered most – foundational maintenance. May it never be in the Lord’s house, or else this church also will be a casualty in the violent storms of false teaching that sweep through the community with each passing season and from generation to generation.