Today is part 2 in this series — 9/11: Rebuilding from Ground Zero. I am using Ground Zero as a metaphor for the examination of our spiritual foundations and starting over from the ground up. We first need to find out if we have Jesus as our foundation. Then we need to determine if we have been building with the right or wrong materials on top of the foundation.
Let’s read the text. 1 Cor 3:10-17. Same text as last time.
Last week, I talked about foundations. The most important thing when starting a building project is to ensure a stable foundation. A foundation that will bear the weight of whatever you plan to build on top of it. It would be foolish to build a 50 story skyscraper on top of a foundation of sand along the coast line. Because the waves would hit or even an earthquake and the skyscraper would crumble because the foundation is not solid enough. And I believe the same thing happens in our spiritual lives. God often shakes up our foundations.
Why does God shake up our foundations? Last time, I mentioned two reasons why God shakes up our foundations.
1) God shakes up our foundations because he loves us.
2) God shakes up our foundations because he wants us to build the right foundation with the right attitude.
Any way you slice it, 9/11 hit us unexpectedly, like an earthquake. There were no warning signs. We were all caught by surprise. And when things like 9/11 happen, we feel disoriented. It makes us wonder, why on earth did that happen? God, where were you? Then after we do our venting at God, then we start asking more personal questions. What am I living for? What am I building my life upon? In other words, what is the foundation of my life? At bottom, what really matters to me? Because whatever my answer to that question, that’s the foundation of my life.
One reason why God shakes up our foundation is simply because he loves us.
The context here in 1 Cor 3 is judgment of the Corinthian church, esp. judgment of its leadership. The Corinthians had started out well. Paul came to them and preached only Jesus and him crucified. The gospel of Jesus, the cross of Jesus — this is the core of Paul’s teaching. This was the foundation that Paul laid with care. And they responded to this gospel correctly with repentance and faith. They were saved. Over time, however, they forgot about the foundation and started building with flimsy materials such as an overemphasis on human leaders and spiritual gifts. As a result, unbeknownst to them, they were in danger of completely abandoning the very gospel of Jesus that had saved them.
So God sent an earthquake named Apostle Paul to shake them up. God loves the Corinthian church too much to leave them alone. God sends earthquakes in order that we might examine for the first time or re-examine our foundation.
Is Jesus the foundation of your life, or at bottom, is there something else you are building your life upon?
A second reason why God shakes up our foundation is because he wants us to build with the right attitude.
If Jesus is the right foundation to build upon, then what is the proper attitude with which we are to build upon Jesus? v10 – By the grace of God, or it’s better translated, according to the grace that God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder.
We build church from the foot of the cross. From the grace shown to us there. Otherwise, church will quickly devolve into — by my talent and giftedness, I laid a foundation, or by my effort and hard work, I laid a foundation. Or as a reaction against something negative from my past, I laid my foundation.
The only proper attitude to lay a foundation for a church or for an individual is an overwhelming sense of grace shown to us in Christ Jesus.
The question remains — how can you and I build our lives upon the solid foundation of Jesus Christ? In other words, assuming that Jesus is our foundation, how do we know if we are building with perishable materials or imperishable materials? That’s the question I want to tackle today.
Over the course of trying to answer that question, I discovered that there are 3 warnings in this passage.
1) The first warning is directed toward everyone whether you are Christian or not. It’s a warning to examine our foundations. We covered that last time.
2) Second, there is a warning specifically directed toward Christians. Even with Christ as our foundation, there’s a warning to build with imperishable materials instead of perishable materials.
3) Lastly, there is a warning directed toward Christian teachers and leaders. A warning to teach sound doctrine.