Summary: Examines the importance of the job God has given to each of us. Expanded outline.
YOU ARE A CO-LABORER WITH GOD
If you drive along Woodland Blvd. In downtown Deland, you will notice that all of the old buildings in that area, unlike the oldest buildings in Enterprise, are all built of masonry. That’s because of the fire of 1855. The fire, which swept downtown Deland in September of 1855 forever, changed the face of downtown DeLand along Woodland Blvd. The fire started in Wilcox’s Saloon and destroyed the 100 block of Woodland Blvd. on both sides of the road. The day after the fire, two city ordinances were set up. The first banned all saloons in DeLand and the second mandated that all buildings in the downtown area be built using masonry material, not wood. The people of Deland decided, a bit late, that they needed to make sure they built with materials that could not be easily burned, that could not be easily destroyed.
Paul warns Christians of the importance of building to last as well when he says in 1 Corinthians 3:13 each one’s work will become obvious, for the day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire; the fire will test the quality of each one’s work.
Please open your Bibles this morning and look with me at the 3rd chapter of Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians. Turn with me to 1st Corinthians chapter 3, 1st Corinthians chapter 3 and verse 1, as this morning we are reminded that you and I are to be co-laborer’s with God.
If you remember, the church at Corinth had issues. They had problems. In his letters to the church, to the Christians in Corinth Paul had to address problems with fighting among the members. People were arguing about which preacher was best and about which one they were going to follow. There was sexual immorality in the church. Many in the church were lazy, baby Christians. Even though they had been believers for many years, they weren’t growing. Being carnal, baby, non-obedient and non-growing Christians, the people in Corinth often took each other to court & sued each other. They argued about what they could eat and what they couldn’t. They argued about Christian liberty & legalism. They argued about who had the greatest spiritual gifts. In other words, like children the world over, the babies in the church at Corinth argued and fought, each one wanting their own way.
How sad it is that people often talk about wanting to go back to being like first century Christians and first century churches, without even realizing how much like those churches many of our churches are today. God forgive us, we still have non-growing, lukewarm, back-slidden, self-serving, turf-protecting, self-aggrandizing, uncommitted, blinded, wrong-focused, gnat-sifting, beam-blinded, stagnant, disobedient, vision-forgetting, sin-hugging, Holy Spirit-ignoring, self-promoting, prayer-less and powerless Christians in our churches today. Old-time religion? We’ve got it, and it smells to high heaven.
How quickly they, and we, forget Christ’s call to go and make disciples of all nations.
It is to such a church in the 1st century that Paul writes in 1st Corinthians and reminds them in the 3rd chapter, of 3 identities of the church. In 1st Corinthians 3 Paul paints 3 pictures of the church, and using these pictures, points out what the church and its ministries are supposed to accomplish.
First, in 1 Corinthians 3, in the first 4 verses Paul says:
Identities of the Church (These 3 identities are from Warren W. Wiersbe)
1. The church is a Family and the goal is Maturity – My friends, this church is a family. One of the primary goals of a family is to grow children. Families help teach children, and help them grow to become mature and handle ever greater responsibilities. A family is to help a child grow and take a productive place as an adult in society. If a child does not grow up, does not mature, or does not become productive, then there is either something wrong with the parents in that home, or there is something wrong with the child.
The same is true in the church. When you invite Jesus Christ into your heart to be your Lord and Savior, you are supposed to become a Christ-follower. You are supposed to be an imitator of Christ. We never figure out all of what that means, but we are striving to grow and mature and to become productive laborers in God’s Kingdom. If you are not growing, if you are not becoming more like Christ with each passing year, if you are not becoming productive, then there is either something wrong with the church you are in, or there is something wrong with you, or there is something wrong with the church you are in because there is something wrong with you. It’s that simple.