Today's Lectionary Readings: Psalm 84; 1 Kings 6:1-4, 21-22; 1 Corinthians 3:10-23
Selected Passage for Reflection: 1 Corinthians 3:10-23 (The Message)
1 Corinthians 3:10-23
Or, to put it another way, you are God’s house. Using the gift God gave me as a good architect, I designed blueprints; Apollos is putting up the walls. Let each carpenter who comes on the job take care to build on the foundation! Remember, there is only one foundation, the one already laid: Jesus Christ. Take particular care in picking out your building materials. Eventually there is going to be an inspection. If you use cheap or inferior materials, you’ll be found out. The inspection will be thorough and rigorous. You won’t get by with a thing. If your work passes inspection, fine; if it doesn’t, your part of the building will be torn out and started over. But you won’t be torn out; you’ll survive—but just barely.
You realize, don’t you, that you are the temple of God, and God himself is present in you? No one will get by with vandalizing God’s temple, you can be sure of that. God’s temple is sacred—and you, remember, are the temple.
Don’t fool yourself. Don’t think that you can be wise merely by being relevant. Be God’s fool—that’s the path to true wisdom. What the world calls smart, God calls stupid. It’s written in Scripture,
He exposes the hype of the hipsters.
The Master sees through the smoke screens
of the know-it-alls.
I don’t want to hear any of you bragging about yourself or anyone else. Everything is already yours as a gift—Paul, Apollos, Peter, the world, life, death, the present, the future—all of it is yours, and you are privileged to be in union with Christ, who is in union with God.
How do we build when it feels like the foundation is crumbling? We approach this Easter knowing that the world is in turmoil. Though it has been in chaos before, it seems more palpable for many of us now due to the ability to connect to news anywhere in the world at any time. Whether we live in Japan, Belgium, Brazil or the U.S., there is a type of division taking place even as the ease in understanding one another is potentially the highest. How can this paradox exist?
The crises have become something we share globally now - pandemic, unveiling of systemic injustice on a world scale, economic stress, health care inequalities, the rise of nationalism. Pick almost any country and you can trace the effects of each one of these. Our sense of sturdy ground, perhaps our illusion of a solid foundation, is falling apart and more than I can remember in my lifetime, the Word of God seems as relevant as ever. Karl Barth’s charge to read the Bible and the newspaper side by side fits our times.
When I interpret the newspaper through the Word of God, (meaning Scripture and also the Person of Jesus), I have hope that indeed, the foundation is NOT crumbling. Despite what I can see with my eyes and hear with my ears, “there is only one foundation, the one already laid: Jesus Christ.”
This passage stuck out to me because in our work in Lyon, France, we call ourselves “Cultural Bridge Builders”. We are here as God’s temples, using the gifts God gave us to bring people together who would not normally meet and trying to build bridges between cultures, languages, social classes, ethnic backgrounds, and more. Living in the fourth most atheist country in the world, our setting is shockingly skeptical, post-Christian, anti-easy-answers and unsubstantiated faith. And this is not discouraging. To our wonderful surprise, there is a spiritual thirst and search for meaning and good - perhaps what we would call a hunt for this foundation that has already been laid - everywhere we turn. In our broken humanity and with our feeble attempts at building on the foundation, we are sometimes struck with the feeling that we are indeed “fools for Christ”.
On our best days, we are not seeking merely to be relevant. Instead, we hope our lives will be over-turned, exposed, dissected, so that those in our communities see not us, but Jesus. On days when I experience discouragement or a feeling of helplessness, losing sense of the foundation and my purpose here, I have a habit of writing out what I am thankful for. “The world, life, death, the present, the future”- all of it is ours! All of it is a gift! For we desire to live in union with Christ who is in union with God. The Carpenter is rebuilding each one of us so that we may in turn build with Christ, the solid foundation of Christ, so all may see it… and believe.
Where does the foundation seem to be crumbling in your neighborhood, at your work place, in your family, in your relationships? Ask God to reveal one place where you can build. (Example: There is a lost sense of community here, so recently, we started a running group through meetup.com so people can meet and run outside in the park with masks and social distancing.)
O God, our Architect, our Builder, our Carpenter and our one common Foundation, we embrace these new (or not so new) words and images as part of your identity. We invite you to rebuild us as you wish, in ways that may seem foolish to some, so that your Name and goodness can be seen and multiplied in our inner and outer circles. Thank you for our uniqueness, our idiosyncrasies, our humanity, our mistakes, and our foolishness. May it all be used for your glory, now and forever. Amen.
About the Author
Johnna is serving overseas with Serve Globally in Lyon, France. After living in the U.S., Japan and Belgium, she married a Brazilian and they serve their local community through conversation in English and other languages, refugee and immigrant support, and empowering people to find their part in God’s story. She is certified as an IDI Qualified Administrator and is currently being transformed by God’s grace through parenting two young girls and participating in three anti-racism cohorts.