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We Are Being Built By God

I was at a Gathering (a first century style “home church” meeting) recently and the woman hosting it said she thought God wanted us to share our testimonies that day.

When she said that some ideas from the Lord fell like dominoes in my heart. What I share here is what I received when she opened that meeting.

“For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:9-11)

Earlier in the letter to the house churches in Corinth, Paul said this:

“And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-2)

Jesus was the chief cornerstone in all that Paul did. Paul was a wise master builder. In 1 Corinthians 3:10 Paul urged anyone who built on the foundation that IS Jesus in anyone’s life (even his own) to take heed (literally, to look carefully at) how he would build on that foundation.

The Church was designed to be a LIFE…a JOURNEY through the lives of Christians. One of the many things added to God’s Word to water down the Christian experience has been what I call an “event mentality.”

By this I mean that instead of experiencing God constantly, moment by moment, the Christian experience has devolved to a series of events into which we are called to have encounters with God that can only happen at an official “God dispenser” or “worship service.”

If you listen to the conversations of Christians or monitor FaceBook statuses on Saturdays or the days before mid-week services, you’ll see that what I’m saying is true.

We’ve become a people dependent upon spiritual events at which we expect to be “filled” or topped off with the Holy Spirit Who is apparently at the beck and call of mere humans in positions of power who have the proper titles on organizational charts.

(Truth: God is everywhere….all the time. He does not need to be summoned or conjured up.)

So, whenever a Christian is called upon to share his testimony he has a tendency to have an event of his own in which he shares about an event he had with God that blessed him.

Now, it is good and right to give testimonies. The world systems have taught most of the people on the earth that God is not really pertinent. People believe that if God is real He isn’t really that important and is, at most, an “add-on” that you call upon only in times of dire need….the way people shop for pain killers or laxatives.

So, when a person shares their story about what God did for them, this is a good thing. As one good friend of mine often says, “You can’t really argue with a person about his personal experience with God.”

Testimonies about God are good.

When we were told recently that the Lord wanted us to share our testimonies I sensed that there was another way we could approach that idea.

I asked the people there to imagine that their life before Jesus came in was a house built in a field by a squatter. It was a shack or a shanty…..and was constructed ramshackle of all sorts of materials. Actually, the materials consisted of anything a person could salvage from a dump.

We had built our past lives out of whatever was handy.

I then asked them to imagine that the field was as big as the entire earth and that it was filled with shanties like the one that represented each one of our lives.

This is what a world without Jesus looked like. Everyone was scrambling to build their lives out of whatever they happened upon and could slap onto the existing structure of their lives.

Some of us have become born anew.

When we were born again it was because we had asked Jesus to be our Lord. That means that we asked Him to purchase us…and we became His possession. That’s why Paul said this: “you are God's building...” (1 Corinthians 3:9)

We are not our own and our lives are not our own building. We belong to Jesus.

The first thing He did with each of us was to scrape away all we were and thought we were…even the foundation. Through whoever it was that led us to Jesus, a new foundation was laid.

“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:11)

Jesus is our foundation.

Then He began to build upon Himself as our foundation. How did He do that?

He did it through the things we were taught, through what He spoke to us directly, through the things He allowed to happen to us and through what we read in God’s Word.

Those who taught us from pulpits, in homes, in Sunday School or Bible class, in seminars and conferences, in men’s or ladies’ retreats, through books, videos and pamphlets…however we learned – these were builders. Each of these built on the foundation of Jesus in our lives.

Unfortunately, not all who built in our lives did so wisely.

Some did not use fresh materials provided by God. Many learned what they were taught, never checking to see if it was really true.

Many taught “the way it has always been”. Many taught to the people entrusted to them denominational doctrines, teachings, and traditions of men from their style of Christianity that God NEVER intended anyone be taught.

As one who has taught in the Body of Christ a lot, I know I have taught things I thought were true but, after studying things more deeply learned I was incorrect. In fact, the last time I taught Ephesians in a Bible study in a church building I confessed to those in the class that I had taught a verse incorrectly in the past.

(We are people. We WILL make mistakes. When we realize it we must have the humility to confess it and receive forgiveness for that.)

Whenever we have been taught something that is in error, or even something that is true but isn’t God’s will that we learn it just then, it is like the people erecting the building that is our lives.

This is like putting on old, used materials or placing a piece out of the architect’s order for building it.

The result, left unchecked, will be a building that will not be the one God intended our lives to be.

“‘For I know the plans (thoughts and intentions) that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’” (Jeremiah 29:11 – NASB)

God is the master architect for your life. He has plans…..blueprints….for His intentions for the building you are. Sometimes, though, we humans inadvertently subtract from and add to His plans.

One day I went with a friend to see the brand new home he was having built. The workers were there and knew who he was so we were free to wander around looking at where rooms had been laid out. Most of the basic framework was in place and as we looked around I noticed a board that was obviously used wood that had been reclaimed from another house that had been demolished. Those building the house had used it to try to save the homeowner some money.

There were others like it that I did not see. When the foreman over this and other houses being built showed up, though, he DID see it and the other pieces of used wood.

He was NOT pleased.

He called the workers over and pointed out the piece of wood I first noted and he said, “That comes down. This man is paying good money for us to build him a good home. That board comes down and that one and that one and that one too. We will only use new, quality material building this house.”

Then he pointed to the framework that was going to become a wall. “And that needs to be taken down and re-done. That’s not done right. That is not what is on the blueprints.”

So, the workers hurried to take down what was done incorrectly, according to the wise master builder’s plans, and to take down and replace the inferior materials that had been utilized.

God is paying attention to what is being built in us on top of the foundation of Jesus.

When we tell our testimonies we are only speaking about what we are aware that God has done in our lives. It’s wonderful to notice and to tell of how God is assembling us as buildings.

After all, “you are God's building” (1 Corinthians 3:9). Therefore, God is adding a piece here and a piece there as He constructs us according to His blueprints for our lives.

However, this is not our complete testimony.

To do God’s work in our lives justice we must also give testimony to what He has also REMOVED from our lives.

Imagine you were that house that my friend was having built.

Imagine thinking those old, used, inferior boards and that improperly installed wall were a part of YOU. Then someone in Christ who watches over you comes along and says, “Remove that. Tear that down. Replace that.”

This is what God is doing in our lives in the transformation and renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). He is taking away parts of our lives that we consider to be intrinsic to who we are and is replacing some of those parts.

This, TOO, is our testimony as to what He is accomplishing in our lives.

The warm and fuzzy things God has done for us are glorious but so are the uncomfortable things that He has done. When we tell our stories those parts are as important as are the fun to experience parts were.

“For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:9-11)

You know, there was a time when we did not have Jesus in our lives and He was VERY distant from us, experientially.

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation…” (Ephesians 2:13-14)

When Jesus saved us we were “brought near” to God.

In Christ, God tore down walls between people and He is doing that in our personal lives so we can each be buildings that represent His intentions for our lives.

“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:19-22)

But this is not just about us each as individuals.

Each building of God that we eventually become is designed to be FITTED together with all other Christians to form ONE building or temple. This one building is “a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”

This is the ONE body (or church) that Paul speaks about in Romans 12:4-5, 1 Corinthians 10:17, 12:12-13; 12:20, Ephesians 2:16, 4:4 and Colossians 3:15.

This is a HUGE deal and just as God is building, tearing down, replacing and renovating our lives in Christ He is addressing it in every group of Christians in every separate part of that ONE Church.

Each one of those people in the Church is being worked on by God to be fitted together with people of God’s choosing to form the dwelling place He has in mind.

God is up to something.

According to Solomon, there is “a time to tear down and a time to build up.” (Ecclesiastes 3:3)

God is actively tearing down and building up in the individual lives of people and in groupings of people in the Body of Christ. When God is finished, none of those groups that have identities in addition to being the One Church will exist anymore.

All those who see themselves just in terms of some parts of the Church instead of seeing themselves in terms of being “in Christ” will experience much unnecessary pain and suffering as they see God dissolve the divisions and traditions of men in His Church.

It will hurt them because they were taught things God never intended they be taught.

God will remove that from their lives and it will hurt.

THIS is why is it so important that we testify frankly and with joy of the uncomfortable things God is doing to tear down things in our lives that need to go or be replaced or rebuilt.

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” (Colossians 3:12-15)

We are not intended by God to be zombies that move from one event to another.

We are the people of God and we are on a journey.

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers, who have borne witness (given testimony) of your love before the church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well…” (3 John 1:4-6)

As we journey, let’s give testimony of God’s hand in our lives. Let’s humbly tell our stories and encourage others brothers and sisters to do so as well.

May we tell our stories of God’s work with truthfulness, grace, peace and kindness.

May we bear the pain of others with patience and joy.

May God put His dwelling place together quickly. The time we finally come together is long overdue.

Pastor Mike McInerney

Mike McInerney Ministries, Inc.

Decatur, Texas

© August 2, 2016

(for use with permission)

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