Day 33 Sacred Season
33. 11th July Tested by fire: 1 Cor 3:10-17
Pastor Andy Collins, Newtown Mission. New South Wales
If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each personâs work (1 Corinthians 3:12-13 NIV)
Basis of Union Paragraph 18.
The Uniting Church prays that, through the gift of the Spirit, God will constantly correct that which is erroneous in its life,
Imagine what it must be like to stand by and watch your lifeâs work go up in smoke? Feeling helplessly small and ill-equipped to prevent everything youâve worked so hard for being completely consumed. Imagine your house, all your possessions and priceless memories vanishing. All you see left is the foundations of the building!
Weâve all seen or heard of raging fires sweeping through the Aussie bush, destroying everything in their wake? Prior to becoming a pastor, I worked with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. In Summer, that meant fighting fires! I remember vividly one year being sent to the Myall Lakes, where a stray boat flare let off on New Yearâs Eve started a huge bushfire. I felt ridiculously small next to this raging inferno, with flames reaching hundreds of metres into the air. There was little we could do. Afterwards, it was difficult to imagine that this place was thick forest. There was nothing left but ash and the occasional burnt stump. Such was the power of the fire that everything else was consumed as if it never existed.
Paul has some very sobering words for the Corinthian church and for us. There is a foundation that has been laid for us. In fact, God went to great lengths to ensure that this foundation was solid. Have a read also of 1 Corinthians 15:1-8. Paul reminds them exactly what foundation they must build on: The gospel that was preached to them involved the death and a resurrection of Christ Himself. By it we were saved. Eternally saved from fire. Good news indeed. As the angel said to Joseph in Matthew 1:21, âName the child Jesus, for He will save His people from their sinâ. This foundation is a wonderful one, and it has endured for centuries.
We have the responsibility to choose very wisely what we use to build on this foundation. Often, we seek new and meaningful ways to reach out to the world around us. Some of these are useful. However, we must be very careful not to dilute or change the message that was handed down to us from God. One day, we will stand before our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Himself. All of our works will be tested with fire. If I have built on the foundation He laid of salvation from the power of sin and death, I will find that my works will be like pure gold and precious jewels. They will endure a scorching fire. However, if I neglect this foundation, like wood, hay or straw, all of my work will have vanished in the flames. All that time, labour and passion will have been in vain unless I have guided others to their Saviour and mine. As the Lord looks into my eyes, indeed through to my very soul, I long for His âWell doneâ. I would hate to have Him ask me, âWell?â
Letâs not be wooed by the latest, greatest method of reaching people unless there is a firm foundation. âItâs all about communityâ: Yes, we are to be a loving communityâ¦ Our motivation is that we are a loving redeemed community. âChurch is all about loveâ: Well, Godâs love was costly. There was a cross, there was blood, there was His one and only Sonâ¦ âGo green!â: Well, read Romans 8:19-21. It seems that creation looks at the redeemed people of God and declares, âWe want the same freedom and glory that they haveâ. Get the picture? Psalms 127:1 declares, âUnless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vainâ. Isnât it worth spending the time humbly and honestly asking the Lord to show you where you need to stop what youâre doing because ultimately it is laboring in vain.
Prayer: Lord, please show me where I am laboring in vain. I long to build on that wonderful foundation of the precious sacrifice of Your only Son to rescue the entire world from the power of sin and death. Unless I do, then all of my efforts are futile anyway. Give me the courage and humility to change. When finally we are face to face, I long to hear You say, âWell doneâ, not, âWell?â In the precious name of Jesus my Saviour I pray. AMENâ.
Pray for: Unitingworld partner – The Hong Kong Council of the Church of Christ in China