What are we building?

In 1 Corinthians 3 we read a passage that is so often misunderstood, lets read it and see what comes to mind;

10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.

14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

Many people look at vv.10-11 and think, aha, this is me and my life…we are so apt to put ourselves at the centre of everything, aren’t we?! They think this about me building my life, me growing and bettering myself.

Paul is actually writing about the church, the fellowshipping, gathering, assembling body of believers there in Corinth. 

V.11 tells us very clearly that no foundation other than Jesus can or should be laid for the church. To flip that around, if Jesus is not the foundation of the church, then really the place is not a church. We ought to be doing our best to build on this foundation and add to the body with gold, silver, and precious stones, not wood, hay, or straw. Simply, we ought to be contributing to the body for the glory of God and for the building up of others, with work we are proud of, done as if for Jesus Himself. 

It’s not our job, however, to make the church grow. We don’t need to enter into complex multiplication programs and try this and maybe that, we simply need to be a body willing to serve, aiming for excellence in all we do, everything done in love for our Lord and Saviour and for each other (with a generous helping of grace thrown in, too!). Back in vv.6-7 Paul clearly states that God gives the growth. Some plant, some water, but God gives the growth. 

So this passage is not about building your own life, it’s about building the church of Jesus Christ. That is something we are all called to be involved in; Jesus builds the church, we make disciples. We make disciples, and Jesus builds the church.

What an amazing opportunity we have to partner with God in this task. We are God’s fellow workers, we, the church, are God’s field, we the church are God’s building. What a pleasure and privilege it is to help build this.

Pray on this today – how can I add to the church?

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