1 Corinthians 3:10-23
"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. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 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. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple. Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are . Christ's, and Christ is God's."
Last summer a few friends and I lead a program for refugee children in El Cajon. Each morning we would come early to set up and go over the schedule for the day. Then we would pull out some games and wait for the kids to check in. Wes began a morning ritual early in the summer. He would gather all Jenga pieces and build towers. It was his goal to build the tallest tower he could. Of course there were obstacles. An uneven building surface, 5-6 eight-year olds wanting to "help", other kids playing tag in the room knocking against tables, etc. Creating a stable structure out of a bunch of blocks was not easy which made Wes even more proud when he created something that was worthy of having it's picture taken for future bragging rights. This week I read about the image of a temple being built. I'll admit I do not see myself as some who builds much of anything.
However, truth is, we are all builders. As members of the church we build upon the firm foundation of Christ. It is our job to build up the body into maturity. But not everyone will build a good structure. That is why Paul warns us, "let each one take care how he builds." It may be easy to disregard this caution, thinking that it does not apply to you. But I loved something that Josh Reich said on Sunday at Revolution. He talked about how leadership is defined by influence. We all have a sphere that we influence, that we lead in some way, that we build up. Who are you leading? How are you doing that? This passage tells us that "each one's work will become manifest... it will be revealed by fire." How we build will be judged because each of us has the power to grow the church stronger in unity or to destroy it with quarreling and discord.
But, and please don't miss this, I do not think that the judgment of our work is reason enough to build well upon the foundation. We should not work for unity in order to receive a prize. Paul ends this passage with a command. "Let no one boast in men." Do not elevate yourself or others due to pride or a need of control. Because, "all things are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's." This is a blessing. We have been given all things in Christ. We no longer need to strive for recognition or power on earth because we have all things. And still we are all unified in that we are all in Christ. He is the head of the Church and we submit all we have (which is everything) to Him. And we can trust Him because He submits to God the Father. Even unto death, He has proven that He will do the will of the Father to build the Kingdom of God. And so can we, not for a prize or even our own good. But for His glory.
*My sister Anna and David, her husband, came to visit this weekend (i'll post about that later) so this is the post that should have been up on 10/26
** If you want to go more in depth into this passage I encourage you to listen to John Piper's Sermons on it here and here.