Wednesday, September 5, 2012

1 Corinthians 3

Paul continues his denunciation of "factions" in the church. I wonder what he would have thought of the modern concept of "denominations" -- I suspect the rhetoric he used on the Corinthians would be mild in comparison. He tells them (1-4) that they are behaving like babies (can only drink milk, cannot handle solid food). The example of their babyness is their clinging to the factions. From chapter 1 we learned that there were at least four different factions in the church: the Paul group, the Apollos group, the Cephas (Peter) group and the Christ group. Paul's solution to this factionalism to to point out that Paul, Apollos, Cephas are all servants of Christ -- one plants, another weeds, another waters but God gives the increase and the ultimate harvest is the harvest of souls.

He shifts metaphors in 3:10 from "growing" to building. Paul says he has labored, like a good worker, to lay an excellent foundation. He is blessed to know that others have followed him and have built on his foundation. In the "Day" -- short hand for "The Day of the Lord" -- our works will be tried by fire and what we are will ultimately be revealed. For pastors and other Christian leaders this image is vitally important. All of us stand on the shoulders of those who went before us. I pastor Christ Church in Snyder. I pastor here because many other pastors laid foundations, built structures, gathered community and engaged in mission and ministry in this place. I am grateful to all of them. My job is to build on the foundations they laid down. The next stage of the equation is equally important. I do not live in an isolated present. I am building a foundation and a community that others will be responsible for after me. I need to be the best foundation builder, community builder I can possibly be.

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