Cross Points 5.1.22

Building a House, Psalm 127

As we continue our ascent up the mountain toward the temple in Jerusalem figuratively, we come to Psalm 127.  This ascent to worship for the Jew has many parallels to our ascent into maturity as we actively perform discipleship, including our worship of Jesus.  This song, or Psalm, tells us something that is very practical but often neglected.

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.                                                    Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stay awake in vain.

You’ll remember in the Old Testament, the story of the Tower of Babel.  After the flood of Noah, with mankind restarting and multiplying, the worldly ways of man began to take over again.  A major project was to build this tower, reaching to the heavens.  What was their objective?  I’m not sure.  I don’t really think they expected to reach heaven, as in where God resides, but I do think they planned for it to be a massive endeavor reaching into the “heavens” (the atmosphere), impressing their fellow humans, and showing their dependance on self, rather than a dependance on God.
You know how the story goes.  God did not like it, so he confused their language, resulting in many different languages.  Wouldn’t it be interesting to hear what the original language they all spoke sounded like?  Maybe we will someday.  Because they spoke these different languages all-of-a-sudden, with the confusion it caused, they dispersed all over the world, to set up their language-based kingdoms.  The problem that caused all this to happen?  Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain.
There’s a lot of work that goes into building a house of any kind.  A blueprint is usually created that provides the dimensions and design for the builder to use.  Timing of materials and creating the materials (especially back in the tower’s day) is a big deal.  Then you need certain skills to put it all together, which is not a small task.  It’s not hard to see how something like this tower, or like the cathedrals and churches we find around the world, can become matters of pride, something “we” did.
What does God expect?  It’s not too complicated.  In James 5 the half-brother of Jesus talks about making such plans, in his example it regards traveling.  We can make all these plans, but we should simply have an attitude that recognizes we are not in control, God is.  “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”  It’s a matter of humility.  Give God his due.
Some like to say that being a Christian is “all God” and that we have no part in our salvation.  I don’t agree.  Salvation is impossible without God’s sacrifice through Jesus, and God is in overall control, but we do play our part.  We must intentionally go about learning and seeking and serving, obeying as we learn what the Lord expects.  We defy any real definition of faith otherwise.
As we travel up the mountain to worship, as we grow in our Christian faith, our character, our ability to stay on path following the Lord, it does require our effort, but let’s humbly confess our dependance on God and his Word as it guides us, as we work with other Christians for maturity.  Let the Lord play his supreme part in building this house of faith you live in; and continue up the hill.
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