I’m always happy to see people respond positively to the Gospel message.
Whether it’s in a group setting or through a personal conversation, I know the decision to trust in Jesus Christ is the best decision a person can ever make. But, in those moments, I’m usually bracing myself on the inside, hoping it’s the real deal, hoping that they actually walk this out and grow into strong, life-long disciples of Jesus.
I know that not everyone who shows the initial sign of a positive response ends up living a Christ-transformed life. What is it that makes the difference between those who do and those who don’t? What’s most essential for a new believer to get off to the right start?
When we help others follow Jesus, we are helping them build their lives. But how they build, especially during the critical early phase, matters greatly.
A Solid Foundation is Essential
Imagine a building with a foundation that is still being dug, the concrete not yet poured. It looks like nothing at that point—just a large, barren pit in the ground.
This building project is still in the early stages, but what happens during this phase is absolutely critical to the quality and stability of the building. If the foundation is properly laid, the building will be strong. If the foundation is poorly laid, the cost of repairing it later will be significant, if it can even be fixed at all. A good foundation is essential.
The Storm-Proof Life
Both Jesus and Paul referenced construction to illustrate the importance of living wisely (Matthew 7:24-29; I Corinthians 3:10). Jesus said that if the foundation (starting point) isn’t right in a person’s life, when the “storms” inevitably come, those storms will cause that person’s life to be destroyed.
Simply put, a “good foundation” is a habit of hearing and obeying what Jesus says. Jesus explains saying,
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27)
Notice that the storm came and beat against both buildings. But the results were different, depending on the foundation.
No life is storm-free, but, with the right kind of foundation, it can be storm-proof.
The foundation is a huge deal—it’s not flashy and may even be invisible once the rest of the building is constructed, but a solid foundation is essential.
Focus on the Foundation, Not the Facade
Steve Murrell comments in his book WikiChurch that “many spiritual lives are built with more concern about the facade than the foundation.” In our effort to follow Jesus and help others follow him, it’s easy for us to obsess about the wrong things.
It’s easy to focus more on looking right than being right.
It’s About Jesus
If we’re not careful, we can become caught up in things that are far from central to the Christian faith. The foundation and starting point is the proper response to Jesus. It’s about Jesus, not just knowing about Jesus, but listening to his teaching, believing and actually obeying Jesus.
Jesus is Lord.