By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. I Corinthians 3:10
But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. I Corinthians 12:18
Building a church, i.e., a body of believers, is like the man who set out to build a house. He had seen some beautiful houses made of brick, and determined that his house would also be made of bricks. He began searching for the strongest and most beautiful bricks, because he wanted his house to be both strong and beautiful. He took great care in his search for bricks. He read books on how to find lots and lots of great bricks. He spent long hours perfecting his strategic plan for collecting more and more bricks. He became an expert at finding and collecting bricks. He wrote books and taught seminars on the subject. His brick collection was one of the largest the world had ever seen—piles and piles of bricks covering acres and acres of land. Nobody knew more than he knew about how to collect bricks. The entire world recognized him as a wildly successful expert when it came to finding and collecting bricks.
He never built the house.
Another man set out to build a house. He too would build with bricks. When he had found his first two bricks, he began to examine them closely to determine how they might fit together. They were not particularly beautiful bricks nor were they all that strong, but he knew he could use them. When he had determined how they would best fit together, he used mortar to join them …
“The unity of Christendom is not a luxury, but a necessity. The world will go limping until Christ’s prayer that all may be one is answered. We must have unity, not at all costs, but at all risks. A unified Church is the only offering we dare present to the coming Christ, for in it alone will He find room to dwell.”
Bishop Charles Henry Brent
I had a walkway installed on the side of my house. It had been a bunch of mud and dirt and was never going to grow grass, so we spent one Spring dressing it up. The first major piece was a lined walkway. I explained to the contractor what I had in mind and he seemed to understand pretty well. “Crushed granite”, he said…”That’s what you’re looking for, right?” Well, I had no idea. I knew the look I wanted, but I didn’t know the name of the material. “Yes,” I answered in complete ignorance. I should have pressed for more clarity.
It was all installed in a day…while I was gone. As it turns out, it was not what I had in mind at all. It was a different color, a different consistency and pretty much completely different than what I envisioned. But I have learned to like it. I also learned how important it is to see the materials before you start building with them, because the materials matter. In fact, in this case I strongly suspect that the materials I had in mind were not nearly as practical nor as useful as what I got. So I decided to like it.
When Paul talked about the “materials” for building the church in I Corinthians 3, he also concluded that the materials matter. He said some of us would …