Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Continue Building on the ONE Foundation-- Jesus Christ

1Cor. 3:11-20 NLT 
   11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. 12 Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. 13 But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. 14 If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. 15 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. 
   16 Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? 17 God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. 
   18 Stop deceiving yourselves. If you think you are wise by this world’s standards, you need to become a fool to be truly wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As the Scriptures say,
     “He traps the wise in the snare of their own cleverness.” 20  And again, “The LORD knows the thoughts of the wise; he knows they are worthless.”

I stopped into my favorite barbershop today to get a haircut. Two of my barber friends were going at their usual heated discussion, while trying to cut customer's hair. They were animated and emotionally reciting the virtues of the Catholic faith as the 'only' faith, versus the protestant faith, particularly evangelical brands of protestantism.  One customer, who had just finished telling the barber (and us) that he had nearly died in the hospital last month, made a telling response!  "Now I know I am alive and well-- when I can come into a barbershop in America and hear an enthusiastic theological debate!"  All laughed and the two debating barbers went on.  As I paid for my haircut and waived to my three barber friends, the one who had cut my hair waived back, while the other two were pointing their clippers at each other shouting over one another. I shuddered to think what any non-believing customers waiting there might be thinking about us Christians who can't seem to get our unity straight and who insist on tearing each other down. Truth is, neither of my friends were correct. There is not a Catholic or a Protestant foundation. There is not a Baptist or a Presbyterian foundation. There is not a Nazarene or a Methodist foundation. There is just Christ-- the ONLY foundation!

We get ourselves into trouble when we expand the definition of the body of Christ beyond what we clearly read in scripture. We may not add qualifications to membership in the body of Christ that Jesus and the Father did not create. There is just faith in Christ alone, that He is God, is Savior, is Lord over all things, united in the Holy Trinity with the Father and the Spirit. There is just trust and obedience to Him alone, not to religious leaders, labels, or laureates. God's 'temple' is not at any particular street corner or in any one of our homes or identifiable church buildings. God's temple is in the world-wide collective heart/minds and souls of all those Christ-followers who totally trust in Him alone. 

While my barber friends had stacked up reference books and pamphlets to support their never-ending debate positions, the wisdom of humanity does not stand up against the fire of testing. When we accept and rely upon Scripture and God's Holy Spirit alone, then we find true wisdom. When we simply present Christ, crucified, died, resurrected, and ascended, and returning again to collect His church-- then we do well.No need to debate or argue, to shout or gesticulate. Just tell Christ's story alone and allow the Holy Spirit to do the convincing and convicting. We are not convincers-- we are just the tellers of the story. God is the convictor and convincer.  God is the one building the church. Sometimes he uses us but usually that is just because he is kindly permitting us to have a role in the process. We are the workers being sent at His bidding into the harvest fields. Go in peace and cooperation with others of the body, not in conflict.
Your servant in Christ's Call

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