1 Corinthians 3:9 “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.”
Paul describes people like himself, and Peter and Apollos–the men who preached and taught God’s word– as God’s “fellow workers.” That term is especially true of those who have been called to serve full time in the Ministry of the Gospel. It also has application to others who teach God’s word to his people. Those who do so have been invited by God to work next to him on his building project.
But what are they building? Paul reveals the answer when he says, “You are God’s field, God’s building.” You and me, the people of God, whether living in Corinth, Greece 2000 years ago or Twenty-first Century America, are the project God is building. The Lord once had his people build a temple worth billions in Jerusalem. But he is not so interested in literal buildings anymore. He lives in people. The houses of worship we build aren’t important for their own sake, but for the people they serve. They are a tool for the Lord to use for what he is building, but they are not the structure itself. The building is you and me, and the other people the Lord may add to our church family.
As God’s people, let’s realize that we are constantly under construction. We are a work in progress. If we are honest, we must admit that it is amazing the Lord would use us as the raw material to make a place where he himself chooses to live. The sin that infects us is more than a mere idea we confess on Sunday morning or learn about in Bible class. It is a thorough corruption that infects us. It makes us unfit for contact with God, much less a place for him to stay. If the Lord had gone shopping for us at Lowe’s or Home Depot, we would have been a severely warped and knotty piece of pine, already so rotted and full of splinters that we would be good for little more than kindling.
Thankfully our good Lord Jesus is a master carpenter. He works miracles with such useless raw materials. In spite of our condition, he loves us. He bought and paid for us with his own blood. He regards us as the most exquisite and flawless piece of walnut or mahogany for the home he is building. He bought us and took us home to build himself a place to live.
Now that he owns us, he has gone to work on us. It is true that, by the forgiveness of sins, Jesus has received each of us “just as I am.” But he has no intention of leaving us that way. We are God’s building, and he is fitting us together for himself. That means change. He is constantly reshaping us, straitening us, boring out the rotten places and filling them in, polishing and refining us. Sometimes his work of cutting, shaving, and straightening is painful. At all times it ennobles and beautifies us. At no time this side of heaven does that work ever end. Jesus will continue to shape and form us into his dwelling place on earth until we join him in his dwelling place above.