There is a lot of building going on in El Salvador. Homes, ministries, systems and programs. By all appearances, it looks like great things are being built for God’s Kingdom in this country. There is a lot of church growth here, a lot of new congregations being built. Stuff is being built in the U.S. too. Megachurch buildings aimed at attracting and growing the Church.
Building isn’t bad, but with all this building I have to ask myself, “What am I building?” I’ve been chewing this over in my brain for the last day and a half now. It started yesterday when I read I Corinthians 3. I’ve read these words of Paul before, but yesterday morning they really stopped me in my tracks.
Here are the verses in I Corinthians 3:12-15 that hit me the most:
Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials – gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgement day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.
The thing is that many people choose to follow Christ, and they may even feel that He has called them into ministry. So they start building. But that’s where this passage seems to differentiate. Some build with materials that will stand the test of God’s examination at the end of their life. And some build with materials that will burn up and they themselves will barely even escape. All that they have worked on, all the “ministry” that they have done will be for nothing.
Please, God, I want to be in the first group.
Sadly, I have been hurt by Christ followers building with materials that don’t last and I have spoken to so many others who have as well. I know that I myself have inflicted some damage building like this. That’s the reality of life when humans are involved.
So how can I build? I think the materials that will last are the Gospel, God’s Word, the truths of His character. Not some watered-down, feel-good, kind of presentation of life as a Christ follower.
The materials that burn? Pride, selfish motivations, seeking acknowledgement, using my sacrifices for Christ chiefly as a means to fulfill my own needs, and presenting a Gospel that offers a life with no suffering and no growth.
The Gospel needs to be what I am building on beginning to end. The Gospel…that God is holy, and I am a sinner. That I am weak and He is strong. That He works through me because He has made me His child through the death of His Son. Building on this makes me realize He doesn’t need me to build anything at all. This is humbling, this is reality.
So what am I building? As it turns out, nothing. I can’t build anything. Any of my efforts are just wood, hay, and straw. But still I try, oh, do I try. I find myself getting offended at others, or prideful, or wishing someone would tell me I was doing a good job. But this is for nothing! This burns up in an instant! And it doesn’t matter at all in the end!
Instead, I want to cling to the Gospel. Cling to the materials that last – the gold, silver, and jewels of knowing God, following His Son, and living in His Word. In the end, this is all that counts for anything.
I want all that we do here to be saturated with the Gospel from first to last. At the end of my life, I don’t want to stand before God with a life-time of selfish motivations, and prideful goals. This is pointless. I want to stand before Him and when He sees my life-work, He sees His Gospel, and He sees His Son. That’s all the matters in the end anyway.