Thursday, February 26, 2009

Laborers Together

I Corinthians 3:10-17

I have done a lot of work as a plumber, and in the process watched a lot of builders. it is standard practice for a team of specialists to lay out and pour the foundation. Once the foundation is finished, a framing crew begins to build the house. they put up the walls, trusses and sheeting on the walls and roof. At this point the plumbers, HVAC people and electricians install the concealed parts of their work. The roofers are called in and install the finished roof.

Once the mechanical trades have their required wiring, piping and ductwork in place, the insulation is installed and the dry wall crew begins to finish the inside walls. the siding crew starts to put the final surface on the outside walls. As the walls are completed, trim crews install doors, base boards and other trim. A paint crew applies finishes to each completed section. Finally. flooring crews install carpet and tile and the plumbers, hvac people and electricians install toilets, sinks, lights and furnaces. Detail work is done and finally the house is completed. Each specialized crew accomplishes the part they have been given and contributes to the house becoming what the owner desires. They work together.

Normally, there is little conflict between the various crews, although from time to time it may be neccessary to modify a part of what one group has done to accomodate the needs of another group. Occasionally, however one finds someone who ignores the needs of all the rest, concerned only with his part. Perhaps a plumber discovers that a certain beam or joist is in his way. Rather than rerouting his piping or consulting with the framer, he saws out the beam or truss, weakening the building.

The plumber has demonstrated a disdain for the labor and skill of the framing crew, and clearly has no interest in the integrity of the house, being only interested in his own convenience. This results in strife between the plumber and other crews, and the plumber may be fired. Several times it has been my job to try to finish jobs where the former plumber had done such things. Needless to say, the framers and other crews were sonmewhat antagonistic in such cases, and it is neccessary for me to rebuild trust. As a result the entire project was hindered.

Paul uses this very scenario in describing the relationship of different teachers and pastors in a church. Notice his instructions in I Corinthians 3:10-15.

"According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire."

A new pastor may well find that everything the former pastor did does not exactly match his goals and plans. Many, faced with such a situation, take the bad plumbers approach, ignoring the church to forward their own agenda. The church may be so conditioned to doing things a certain way that they are resistant to change. Conflicts arise, proving that neither side is spiritual. Frequently the church is destroyed as a result. It is common to blame the former pastor, or the church for the problem.

Paul instructs Timothey to be an example in I Timothy 4:12. "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." It is his responsibility to set a spiritual example. It is primarily his responsibility to adapt his approach in such a way as to eliminate conflict. Titus 1:7 teaches that a pastor must not be selfwilled, not determined to have his own way. The qualifications given in Titus 1, and in I Timothy 3 are for the purpose of identifying spiritual men to be pastors. If these traits are not present, the man is not spiritual and is not qualified to pastor.

Paul warns that we are responsible for how we build and what we build on the foundation which was laid. Failure to build with proper materials , or in a proper manner will result in loss. We are God's Temple, his project and anyone who messes it up will be punished, whether pastor, or we ourselves. I Coointhians 3:16-17 makes this clear. "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." Even correction of false doctrine or overt sin must be done in a manner that is pleasing to God. The problems addressed in I Corinthians are all the result of unspiritual attitudes and Paul gives instructions as to how to approach then from a spiritual point.

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