Monday, June 12, 2017
Building the Church
In our modern Christian circles we are often told it is our responsibility to build the kingdom. Christian leaders work constantly to build the biggest ministry or church they possibly can. We attend seminars and read countless books on how to build the church. Unfortunately, it seems we have forgotten some very important facts.
For twenty years, I worked as a plumber. Time after time I was given a floor plan and the keys to a partially finished house and asked to install the plumbing. The walls were framed up and the roof trusses were in place. The plans told me where the various fixtures went and what kind were to be used. My job was to install the water, sewer and gas piping in the walls so that everything would work properly when the building was finished. In the process, I had to be careful not to weaken any of the structural members in an unacceptable manner. I was only the plumber and could not change the floor plan to make it easier for me, or just put the pipes where I felt like. I had to do my job according to the builder’s plans. The same was true for the framing carpenters, the electricians, the roofers, and the drywall installers.
In Matthew 16:18-19 Jesus said, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Jesus is the builder. He has given us the keys so that we have access to the kingdom so we can get in to do our job, but he has not given us freedom to change the building, to suit ourselves. He is depending on us to do our job properly so that everything will work when the job is done. Unfortunately, many have assumed that his giving us the keys gave us the authority to do whatever we pleased without concern for what he intended.
Paul used similar imagery in I Corinthians 3:10-15, referring to himself as a master stone worker and concrete worker, who has laid the foundation according to the builders plans. “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.”
While Paul had laid the foundation, it was crucial that each tradesman who followed him build according to the builders specifications, hot according to their own plans and ideas. Ultimately, all of the work will be inspected and tested and anything which doesn’t meet the specifications or pass the test will be destroyed, just as any of my plumbing which did not meet the builder’s specifications had to be cut out and replaced. If we want to be rewarded for our work, we are going to have to follow God’s specifications and plans rather than those of the “experts” who sponsor the seminars or write the books telling us how to build a bigger church. We must realize he is the builder, not us.