view as web pdf Being Careful in Building

Building regulations lay down requirements on how buildings should be constructed so that they will be safe places in which to live and work. The scriptural parallel to my theme is clear from the passage Paul wrote: "I laid a foundation as an expert builder, someone else is building it. But each one must be careful how he builds" (1 Cor 3:10).

Building regulations are there to make sure the construction industry takes care over what it builds, and there are extensive supporting documents that give architects and engineers guidance on how to do the job in safe and efficient ways. In the same way, we have requirements and guidance laid out in the Bible on how we should be building our spiritual house. We will explore some of these ideas in this subject. The first important issue in a building is a proper foundation ­ without that, the building will be fragile and liable to collapse. Jesus made this point very clear in his parable about the two men, one of whom built his house on sand, the other on a rock. As Paul plainly shows in a chapter to the Corinthians, the rock that we need for a secure foundation is Jesus Christ. If we are not rooted and grounded in him, anything we build is wasted effort.

After the foundations come the walls and roof; again, if we are to build something of enduring value, each builder has to follow the plans carefully. Before we start, we have to make sure that we have the materials to complete it. This was the point made in Jesus' parable about a man building a tower (Luke 14). There is a cost to being a disciple of Jesus, and there will be sacrifices that will need to be made by those who want to be part of that spiritual temple that God is building with us.

Working together

Another important part of a building is teamwork and collaboration. Many different skills are needed - carpenters, bricklayers, plumbers, electricians and many more. As well as doing their own job, the craftsman needs to think about the work of the others. It is no good if the plaster is put on the walls if the electrician has not finished running the cables. And so it is with us as spiritual builders; we each have our role to play, but we also need to be aware of others and what they are doing. By our own actions, we can make life difficult for others, or we can make life more straightforward and productive. Therefore we should constantly be thinking about the way our actions will help or hinder others' spiritual progress. We should always be building one another up.

There is one particularly important section in the new building regulations. Until now, it was mainly the builders' plans that were assessed before a building permit was granted, with an occasional site check on things like foundations to make sure they were being properly done. In the new energy regulations, there will be a careful test of the building to make sure that it has been put together properly.

A major reason why buildings do not work as well as they should, is that people cut corners, are a bit lazy, and the result is lots of little weaknesses. Each little weakness is insignificant on its own, but the combined effect of all of them will make a big difference to how well the building will do its job.

Responsibility in building God's house

Building the temple of God is a bit like this: the work involves lots of little tasks, each one on its own, seemingly unimportant and insignificant. Yet if we do not take that task seriously enough, and if we do not fulfil our responsibilities with proper care and diligence, the overall result will be disappointing.

There is a direct spiritual parallel to this new aspect of building that we quoted earlier which tells us that our work will be tested to see how good it is ... the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward (1 Cor 3:13-14). So the next time you see someone building a new office block, think about how the Bible uses this as a practical illustration to teach us many spiritual lessons.

We are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow- citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him, the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord (Eph 2:19-21).

Bro Mumbelunga Green (Ndola, Zambia)

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