Turning to 2 Peter 1: 5-7 (NIV), we are presented with the following:
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.
The Greek word in verse five that is commonly translated as add to, or supplement, is also frequently translated as furnish. It is this idea of furnishing faith that I want to explore through the image of a simple house.
The Foundation: Faith
A solid definition of Faith is required before proceeding to look at how it operates as a foundation.
As I have studied over the past few months I have come to the following as a general definition for faith, inspired by the words of Martin Luther, Tim Barnett, RC Sproul, and John Calvin.
Faith: An internal conviction, based on rational thought, research, and personal experience, that produces a bold lifestyle that is in harmony with the Commands of God.
Faith is, in our house, the floor upon which we stand, fall, and depend upon for sure footing in times of chaos. It is our connection point that allows us to feel the comfort and movements of the Holy Spirit guiding, and transforming us into the image of Christ.
The Framework: Virtue/Goodness
The Bible is clear about the importance of virtue and scripture speaks on many different types of virtue, so rather than listing all the possible verses we could consider in this section I would like you to journey with me as we build the framework of our house with virtue upon our foundation of faith.
The first part of our framework is the support structure that the rest of our virtues depend upon, and so it makes sense in my mind that Honesty and Integrity would be our support structure in this house, and so picture it, our house now has a foundation and a basic frame but there are not many details, no window or door outlines, no room partitions, the framework for our exterior is complete, but the inside is still lacking.
So, what do we do, let us first examine the thing that people would see in our house, the door, and the entryway, I can think of no greater virtues than respect and compassion to take this position, thus we now have a foundation of faith, a support structure and exterior frame of honesty and integrity, and an entryway marked by compassion and respect.
But what would people see next, the living room, the kitchen? I think it best that we continue as we have and move into the living room, the place where conversation and relationships are built. In our living room, we would want some sort of outline for warmth from a fire, this had better be empathy, but there should also be some outlines for windows and this will be our emotional availability, our upper levels of vulnerability. now as we consider our house we have the following, a foundation of faith, a support structure of honesty and integrity, an entryway of compassion and respect, a living room with plans for a fire marked by empathy, and outlines for windows that represent our willingness to be vulnerable and real with people.
Now all that is left is our bedroom, the kitchen, the dining room, and most importantly the bathroom.
The kitchen must have outlines for a sink, and places in which we can cook and prepare food for others, these are all representative of a heart for serving others. It is from within our kitchen that we pour out for those who have become part of our life.
The dining room is where we invite people to sit with us, it represents a deeper vulnerability, the structures in this room represent our need for relationship and council, this is marked by the virtue of wisdom.
The bedroom, the heart of our house so to speak, it is from this place that the love and care, that is given in every other room, is poured from, its structures have been carefully laid out for us in scripture, communicating that the entryway marks our deepest levels of vulnerability and human connection.
We have almost an entire house now, a foundation of faith, a support structure of honesty and integrity, an entryway of compassion and respect, a living room marked with empathy and vulnerability, a kitchen marked by service, a dining room marked by wisdom, and a bedroom marked by love and care.
The last thing we must consider is the bathroom, the place where our deepest struggles reside and meet with our innermost joys, the place where we see who we are in God\’s eyes at the mirror, who we see we are at the toilet, where our deepest shames and struggles are poured out, and the shower, where Christ cleanses us and brings us fully to himself. It is the bathroom that keeps us humble, the bathroom is marked by humility and joy.
This is our framework, the first thing people shall see is our honesty and integrity, the second our compassion and respect, the third our empathy and initial vulnerability, the fourth heart for others and meeting their needs, the fifth our desire for wisdom, the sixth which underpins so much more our love and care, and finally our humility and joy which fuels all other things.
It is the contents of the shelves in each room that represent knowledge which enables us to increase our capacity for each of these virtues, it is the mirrors throughout the house that reminds us to keep ourselves in check, by prayer and wise counsel, it is the chairs in each room that represent our perseverance our ability to endure all things through and for Christ, it is the structure of the shelves and furniture that represent the reverence of God without which none of our virtues would matter, it is the blankets and pillows that represent our affection towards all people, without which we would be cold and detached from the world and utterly unproductive in our accomplishment of the great commission through the Power of Christ, and finally, the very air we breathe within the house is our deepest love for all people, the willingness to die for even those who hate and scorn us. This is our house fully furnished and alive.