The Importance of Foundations
Recently, I had cause to remove the side of our bath for the first time since the house was built. What I discovered astounded me. It appeared to be founded on nothing more than a couple of pieces of cunningly positioned plasterboard. While I set about fixing it I considered what the contractor could have possibly been thinking to have deemed plasterboard a suitable foundation. It appeared that he subscribed to the 'what can't be seen, doesn’t matter' school of thought. Maybe you're like that too! I've met people who have immaculately tidy houses, until you open a cupboard door and the entirety of their worldy belongings come tumbling out!
What is certain is that king Solomon did not take this view of foundations. Speaking of his newly constructed house, the writer tells us; “the foundation was of costly stones, even great stones” (1 Ki. 7:10, KJV). Foundations cannot be seen–it would be easy for Solomon to mix-and-match, or make do with lesser materials at a lower cost–but we observe two important points; (1) Solomon viewed the foundations to be of sufficient importance to warrant costly materials; and (2) the foundations were made to a size suitable to perform the task required of them.
From these two observations we might draw two relevant lessons. First, we must ensure that we invest in our foundation, and second, we must make certain that it is able to bear the weight that we place upon it. ‘That's all perfectly fine’, you say, ‘but how does this apply to the Christian life?’ Well, let's apply it in two ways, objectively and subjectively.
Paul tells us that there is only one foundation; “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11). This is our objective foundation, and our eternity was founded upon Him the moment we trusted Him. He is of infinite value, and His size is immeasurable. He is able to bear the biggest of burdens that we place upon Him. This should be an encouragement to every Christian regardless of their time on the journey of life. Christ is a worthy and able foundation.
But as Paul wrote to the Corinthians he was desperate to impress upon them that their cliquish attitude towards big personalities had revealed a significant weakness in their theology. In practice, they had the wrong foundation. Paul wasn't doubting their salvation, but rather he was showing them that they were living as if they had invested their eternity in Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas (1:12). It is very possible that we might live like this too. Objectively, we have Christ as our foundation, for we know that nothing else will suffice for eternity. But our subjective experience is that we are investing in men. The cult of personality is an easy trap to fall into; we imbibe a doctrine because a particular preacher teaches it; we adopt a practice because someone we look up to adopts it; we neglect something that our conscience convicts us of because someone we respect neglects it. Very quickly we have replaced our foundation with something or someone else.
This might not seem obvious immediately. After all, if we fall into this trap then we're taking the 'what can't be seen, doesn't matter’ view of theology. But sooner or later, it will become apparent, as it would have done with our bath. Too much weight on the support and the whole thing will eventually give way.
Dear believer, the foundation of your life is obvious for all to see. If you are investing in and resting on Christ it will be apparent. Anything else, then the signs of theological subsidence will start to show.