A Firm Foundation

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:24-27)

This passage always calls to my mind the story of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, an Orthodox church in the heart of Moscow. The church, the tallest Orthodox one in the world, was originally built to commemorate Russia’s defeat of Napoleon in 1812, with construction beginning in the late 1830s and finishing in 1883.

When Joseph Stalin took over the Soviet Union, he decided that the land on which the church stood was too prime a location to waste on a church and began planning a grand Palace of the Soviets, complete with the world’s largest monument to Man, to take its place. In 1931, the Cathedral of Christ the Savior was demolished and construction began on the Palace of the Soviets. Stalin’s plan was plagued from the start, however. The land’s proximity to the Moskva River made it too soft to hold the foundation for Stalin’s grandiose building. They poured the foundation, and it sank. They made alterations, reinforced the land, and poured the foundation again, and it once again sank. Eventually repeated failures and floods, and the outbreak of World War 2, caused Stalin to scrap the plan, and the world’s largest outdoor swimming pool was built on the site instead.

In 1990, as the Soviet Union crumbled, the Orthodox Church requested and was granted permission to repossess the land and build an exact replica of the original Cathedral of Christ the Savior. They were told, of course, that the project would fail because the land would never be able to support a building of that size and weight. Yet in 1994, when the swimming pool was taken down and the church’s foundation poured, it stood firm. Construction continued, and the rebuilt church was consecrated in 2000.

What a wonderful illustration of the truths in Matthew 7:24-27. When we build our foundation on self (trusting in our own strengths, having faith in our own righteousness, and seeking to glorify ourselves), our temple to man will crumble when the foundation sinks against the storms and rivers of life. But when our foundation is built on the Rock, when our faith is based on his righteousness, the weight of his glory is strong enough to stand against any storm or flood that comes against us.

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