Build on Christian Wisdom 1 Cor 3
1 Corinthians Ch. 3 Christian Wisdom the way to growth.
I don’t know about you, but one of the things that really get under my skin are some of the daft laws and regulations that have been inflicted on us, many influenced by the EU, including but not exclusively Health and Safety. Remember the straight Banana rule and the ban on conkers. Even here at St. Chad’s our Hot water taps were marked ‘This water is hot water’ The exception being in the gents loo, which nearly always is cold! Police, firemen and ambulance staff having to complete risk assessment forms in triplicate before they can rescue people, even if immediate action is needed! Although it’s would be wrong to be gun hoo, in my day we knew our job could be dangerous but we were paid to help and save people first and foremost regardless to the danger we faced. How about some of the building regulations? When I applied to have another storey built on my side extension I had to dig a hole over six foot deep to prove the existing foundation was at least six foot of solid concrete! Where as the foundations of my previous house built around 1910 was only two layers of brick and itâs still standing! However to be fair some safeguards are needed, especially when you see how many rouge builders and plumbers are about!
Foundations are important! Watch Video then click back button to return; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pktM__i-8IQ
How amazing! That is not an isolated case of buildings collapsing, there are many more on Ytube!
As I prepared this talk I thought I had better listen to previous sermons that I missed as I was sunning myself in Tunisia, so not to repeat or go over ground already covered so to speak. Three weeks ago Bob Crowther in an excellent talk has already spoken of the location and some of the problems facing the Church in Corinth so I won’t repeat all that. But I want to endorse the relevance of Paul’s letter to today’s church both to instruct and inspire us. Most of the questions and problems that the Corinthians faced are still very much with us. Problems like immaturity, instability, divisions, jealousy and envy, lawsuits, marital difficulties, sexual immorality, pride , arrogance and misuse of spiritual gifts.
Not many of us like to be criticised do we? Here in the opening verse of our reading Paul although addressing the church as brothers, a term of endearment, then seems to go for the jugular, so to speak. Essentially Paul is saying; you are a bunch of spiritual babies. The Greek word for ‘infants’ Napios or napiazo in the verb, was almost always used in a negative way much like when we say in English, you are acting like a baby, or a spoilt brat! Like babies they were being self-centered, competing with each other. Although at times Iâm sure he would like to, can you imagine Martin saying to you or me “I wish I could address you as spiritually mature people, but you are being childish, acting like spiritual babies”. Ouch.
As my Life Application Bible points out: Immature Christians are controlled by their own thoughts and desires. Mature Christians follow Godly desires and principles.
Just as it’s crucial for a building to have good foundations, the church of Jesus Christ must be built on His firm foundations. We must build with high quality materials, adopting the right Christian doctrine, and principles, living a Godly life. Can you imagine what God could do here at St. Chad’s if every member was spiritually mature and sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s power. A church that was doctrinally sound. A church where every member gave sacrificially of their time and money!
I don’t want to get side tracked here but I also think it’s important that everything we do for God is of the highest quality and that includes the physical building of the church. The first thing that struck me when I first got invited to minister in churches in the USA was most Americans put their money where their mouth is! We must get out of the ‘that will do’ or ‘we can’t afford that’ mold. What must visitors think when they use the loo (bathroom) in the vestry! Compared to something clean and modern which is common place in the USA.
It is also important that we don”t fall into the trap of venerating people such as what happened at Corinth. Apparently the Corinthians were lining up with human teachers like fans or groupies. Then they were arguing that their group or their teacher was better than some other one. This kind of behaviour has sadly hurt the church through the centuries. It is absolutely the wrong focus. When a leader tries to build a personal following and personal empire, it distracts from the gospel bringing glory to Christ.
Yes we must respect and encourage our leadership but never place them on a pedestal, that honour can only be for Jesus Christ. So often when a minister leaves a church so do some of the fellowship. Likewise some may join the church because they like the minister. This in itself is not wrong but if a church is built on the foundation of Christ he must be the main attraction! I like many of Christians in the 80’s were blessed by the ministry of John Wimber, leader of The Vineyard Church, his teaching and worship style was captivating and enthralling. On one occasion at a conference at Westminster Hall, he begged us not to place him on a pedestal, because as he put it, Iâm only human, test everything because I can get things wrong and place your hope and trust in Christ alone. I guess the modern day equivalents such as Bill Hybels and Max Lucardo must come under similar pressure. Paul wasn’t criticising Apollos in verse 5, far from it, but was enforcing the importance that any leader past present and future must be teaching and preaching according to and building on the foundation of Christ’s teaching, nothing more nothing less.
For a church to be successful it will need a team ministry, a group of individuals with a variety of gifts and abilities. There will be no superstars only team members performing their own roles. Yes it’âs good and right to give and receive encouragement from one another, but don’t just seek praise that comes from people because it’s comparatively worthless, seek approval from God.
Thank God that here at St. Chad’s Martin believes and encourages team ministry. At this point I want to clear up a couple of points. To be a labourer building on Christ’s foundations you don’t have to be on the Leadership team, I’m not. Unlike the Mason’s anyone can join! You don’t need to be clever or an academic, Iâm not. Health or age is no barrier, there is much work which needs to be done, even more when the church is rebuilt. You may be new to the church or the Christian faith, a spiritual infant being spoon fed, it doesn’t matter, climb aboard. However to be a successful labourer for Christ I personally believe you must have a heart for God and a personal relationship with Jesus. Someone who is willing to lay aside their own agenda or worldly thinking and seek God’s wisdom. Romans 12 v2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, his good pleasing and perfect will”. This doesn’t mean we lock ourselves away from the world, far from it. We need to be in the world, in the community. We can enjoy life and all the blessings that God has provided as the world has moves on . It’s not wrong to have a nice car or wonderful gadgets as technology races on at a phenomenal pace. However I’m sure God is more interesting in if we are keeping up with Him more than keeping up with the Jones! Are our thoughts and actions Godly? For an example: Modern TV’s are great, especially smart ones. We can use them to shop online, catch up on programmes we missed, download apps. But should they be used to watch or download porn or place a bet. Although I’m not a gambling man, I personally don’t think gambling in itself is a sin but can it be right when people in the UK spend 46 Billion pounds a year just on betting terminals which the previous government sanctioned, when there is apparent poverty in the country! Between March 2012 and April 2013 over 600,000 children were either stopped in or stopped entering betting shops. Time forbids me to give more examples but when will we realise how we have allowed man’s folly to override God’s wisdom. A good labourer is someone who is prepared to give of their best, we can do without the “that will do” brigade. We need those who are prepared to accept new challenges. You know when I first became a Christian I was content to remain on spiritual milk, it was my excuse not to be pushed into jobs or ministries that I felt inadequate for. “I can’t do that I’m still a baby Christian”. Thankfully one day God’s wisdom prevailed over my infantile thinking and He encouraged me it was time to come more into maturity and he hasn’t finished with me or you yet! Most of us still have a long way to go!
Most buildings that collapse are caused by bad design or inferior materials being used. Often devious builders water down the cement too much to save money. Paul warns us to be careful how we build the kingdom of God. You may note that the foundations that Paul is naming in v12 are growing less stable as he goes down the list. Silver isn’t as stable and valuable as gold; precious stones (in this context meaning marble or granite type stone not diamonds) aren’t as dependable and valuable as gold or silver and neither can they be compacted and held together without shifting like a bar of silver or gold. The list goes on and with each foundation listed its stability is less. Wood, and finally hay and stubble are the last ones listed. We all know what happens when we build with straw.
As a Christian gets farther from the Lord at the centre of his life, the more he will look for other things that will act as foundations for their life putting their life and salvation in jeopardy.
Paul points out the danger of using inferior material such as straw that would not stand the test of time. We must build according to Godâs plan: Psalm 127:1 says “Unless the Lord builds the house, it’s builders labour in vain”.
Again, the Tower of Babel is a perfect example of man’s folly building against God’s design.
We must be careful not to water down the cement, the biblical truths that builds a strong church. We must make sure every brick, that is you and me are bonding together in love and unity. That is never easy but essential! Satan is very subtle in the way he attacks the foundations of the church. He has many weapons just to name a few: Divide and conquer, jealousy, envy and two that I think have had a major effect over the church over the past few decades, pride and arrogance.
As we begin to rebuild the church here at St. Chadâs let us do it with love and humility.
The church must also use relevant ways of presenting and building God’s kingdom. We must make Jesus attractive and relevant to all but never bow to the pressures of political correctness and the way of the every changing world’s so called wisdom. It’s easy to get on the slippery slope. However wonderful our Winter Fair was but what happened to our normal name of Christmas Fair? Maybe next year we can have a Winter Carol service or a Winterstingle service!
We are building against the building code when we forget why we are here. We are here to worship and bring glory to God though his son Jesus Christ, to build his kingdom and to harvest souls! As we know deception is of the devil because he is the father of lies (John 8:44). That is precisely why we cannot allow ourselves to be deceived by worldly wisdom, using worldly wisdom as a building tool. God looks at worldly wisdom as foolish. It did not work for the people who built the tower of Babel and it will not work in any age.
I want to close with this stark reminder mentioned in v16 -17 “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him: for God’s temple is sacred, and you are his temple.
I want us to grasp the magnitude, the importance of these words. We are both individually and corporately as a fellowship the temple of God! God’s Spirit lives in us! It was this very passage that helped me stop smoking!
Surely God deserves, in fact I think demands a clean, safe, comfortable, reliable and honouring place in which to reside. Think about that before we make any plan or take any action, is it line with God’s will and wisdom or Man’s folly.
Unlike some stupid man made laws, God’s all make sense, even if many despise them or consider they hold no relevance in a modern world. Ignore them at your peril. Build your life on the solid foundation of Christ, only He will uphold you as the storms of life batter us.