Working Together for God
1My friends, you are acting like the people of this world. That's why I could not speak to you as spiritual people. You are like babies as far as your faith in Christ is concerned. 2 So I had to treat you like babies and feed you milk. You could not take solid food, and you still cannot, 3because you are not yet spiritual. You are jealous and argue with each other. This proves you are not spiritual and you are acting like the people of this world.
4 Some of you say you follow me, and others claim to follow Apollos. Isn't this how ordinary people behave? 5Apollos and I are merely servants who helped you to have faith. It was the Lord who made it all happen. 6 I planted the seeds, Apollos watered them, but God made them sprout and grow. 7What matters isn't those who planted or watered, but God who made the plants grow. 8The one who plants is just as important as the one who waters. And each one will be paid for what they do. 9Apollos and I work together for God, and you are God's garden and God's building.
Only One Foundation
10God treated me with undeserved grace and let me become an expert builder. I laid a foundation on which others have built. But we must each be careful how we build, 11because Christ is the only foundation. 12-13Whatever we build on this foundation will be tested by fire on the day of judgment. Then everyone will find out if we have used gold, silver, and precious stones, or wood, hay, and straw. 14We will be rewarded if our building is left standing. 15But if it is destroyed by the fire, we will lose everything. Yet we ourselves will be saved, like someone escaping from flames.
16 All of you surely know you are God's temple and his Spirit lives in you. 17Together you are God's holy temple, and God will destroy anyone who destroys his temple.
18Don't fool yourselves! If any of you think you are wise in the things of this world, you will have to become foolish before you can be truly wise. 19 This is because God considers the wisdom of this world to be foolish. It is just as the Scriptures say, “God catches the wise when they try to outsmart him.” 20 The Scriptures also say, “The Lord knows that the plans made by wise people are useless.” 21-22So stop bragging about what anyone has done. Paul and Apollos and Peter all belong to you. In fact, everything is yours, including the world, life, death, the present, and the future. Everything belongs to you, 23and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.
The church at Corinth, as we’ll see over the next several chapters, was in many ways – depressingly so! – much like an all too common congregation of our time: spiritually immature, self-absorbed, prone to factions based on dogma and personality and so resistant to biblical authority, making a big deal about doctrinal minutiae while proudly embracing moral misconduct … the list goes on.
Yet, strangely, I find this heartening. If some of the early churches were this dysfunctional, perhaps there’s hope for us too!
Paul reminds us that, while we may be immature, the “solid food” that will feed our growth is not found in attaching ourselves to strong leaders, but in actually following Jesus. We may be getting it wrong in many ways, and may find the actions and perspectives of our fellow believers aggravating, but we are, together, the temple in which God chooses to dwell.
We can actually grow or build something wonderful, something of eternal value! Jesus himself is the foundation. We belong to Christ, and not to ourselves or someone else. We’ll need to resist the temptation to rely on what we imagine is our own wisdom – being smarter than the other guy – or on the charisma of leaders, even if they themselves are godly people. God has already given us everything we need; we are his fellow-workers.
Lord God, help me to work alongside of you, instead of on my own projects. Lord Jesus, help me to build my life on you. Spirit of God, help me recognize and revere your presence among your people. May we, together, live and work in ways that exalt you, instead of ourselves. Amen.