John 2.13-21, 1 Corinthians 3.9-17
How exciting it is to build your own house. A new house is a vision being born, an idea becoming reality. The layout and the style are your ideas and you watch with eagerness as each brick is laid. You want the very best materials and the best workmanship because this house is yours.
You and I have a Father who is building a house, and he is excited about it. His passion for his house is revealed in Jesus’ fiery cleansing of the temple (Jn 2). This was his Father’s house! The Son is passionate about his Father’s house because it is his house too! That’s an interesting thought: As sons and daughters of God we are called to own the house! Oh we know he is the chief owner, but as sons and daughters it’s our house too, and he expects us to be passionate about it.
Paul says we are not just sons and daughters of the house; we are the house itself! We are God´s temple (1 Co 3.16); the world-wide church is the temple and house of God. Each of us is called to this house and to one of its rooms. By a room I mean a local church within the larger church. And this means we are also called to own our local church. We are to own the vision, take it upon ourselves and be passionate about it. The local church vision doesn’t belong to the pastor, it´s God´s vision; a vision that everyone, including the pastor, buys into. And so we need to ask ourselves some deep questions: Have we bought in? Are you owning your church vision? Are you passionate about it? It´s your part of the house.
Paul says we are the house and also co-workers in building it (1 Co 3.9). As co-workers we build according to the Architect´s instructions – every move is done with an eye on him; it´s too easy to do what the Father is not doing. Sometimes the good we want to do, isn´t the good God is doing, and we do it in our own strength: “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain” (Psalm 127.1). Sometimes we have heard what the Father wants us to do, but we get the timing wrong. We’ve tried many times in our church to get a men´s group going, but we can´t because God’s not doing it. But a time will come when he is doing it. As with building physically, timing is important – you can´t build the second storey before you’ve built the first one; and each ministry has a right and wrong moment to be born.
Paul tells us to build with quality materials (1 Co 3.12). Here in Kenya we have seen a few buildings collapse while being built. Sometimes this is due to bad material quality and sometimes it´s due to incorrect procedures. When quality is sacrificed for cost the result is devastating. Spiritual buildings are made of quality people with quality relationships. Such buildings cannot be built quickly; it takes time to shape people and form relationships. It takes one meeting to gather a crowd, but years to build a family. A church is a family.
Some buildings never become what they were meant to be. In Kenya we see abandoned building projects in all the big cities – buildings that were never completed because someone disappeared with the cash. When people see the building they ask “I wonder what that was going to be?” It´s a sad question; the building is a shell, a potential wasted, a vision destroyed. How different the abandoned building is to a building in progress. When we see the activity around a building in progress we ask “I wonder what that is going to be?” And we are filled with expectation.
What are people saying about you? Are you an abandoned project? Did you down your spiritual tools just as you were becoming something? Or even worse; did it all collapse? Fortunately we have a God of second chances. We see this in the way Jesus restored Peter after he denied him three times (Jn 21.15-19)
Recently a building that collapsed in Mombasa was rebuilt. That takes courage, and a teachable disposition. But that is what God is looking for; people that pick up their tools and continue with the vision. Whether you downed tools or fell, God wants you to keep going; you´re still his house, you´re still his vision, he still has plans for you. As Nicky Gumbel of the Alpha Course said recently “Your mess of yesterday is your mess-age today”. Let´s learn from our mistakes, own the vision, and build with quality until he comes.