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(Part 12)


November 9, 2016
Today’s reading: 1 Corinthians 3:9-17

What makes for unity in the body, whether in CFC-FFL or in a parish? It is heartfelt knowledge that “we are God’s co-workers” (v.9a). We are co-workers, we work together, doing the one work (though with many aspects), in the one body. For that to happen there has to be unity. Further, it is not just working together, it is working for God together. God tells us what to do and we obey. We do not follow our own desires or agenda, but only God’s.

What do we work on? Though we work in the world (evangelization, social justice, etc), it is also crucial that we work to build up the body, composed of our brethren. Thus we are co-workers, but also “you are God’s field, God’s building.” (v.9b). We need to strive for unity within the body, so that it can do united and effective work outside the body. We do that by helping build one another up, in love and unity.

In working to build up the body, we have different roles, assignments, functions, competencies. All are interrelated, intended to keep building the body in peace and unity. “According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it.” (v.10a). But it is not just any kind of building activity, but what and how we are building. Remember it is God’s body. We cannot just be working together but there is envy, rivalry, dissension, factions. We cannot be building our own turfs within the body. Everything we do must be Christ-centered. “But each one must be careful how he builds upon it, for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ.” (v.10b-11).

Now because the body and each member of the body are so important, and God depends on us to build up the body and each other, then we will be held accountable for our work. We all bring different contributions to the body in building it up, building “on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw” (v.12). We all have different talents and capabilities. One will be given a lofty task while another a lowly one. All are important. Ultimately we will be judged by the Lord on the day of judgment, and “the work of each will come to light, for the Day will disclose it.” (v.13a). Our work will be tested by fire, which both destroys and purifies. “It will be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each one’s work.” (v.13b).

Then there will be hell to pay, or heaven, or first purgatory. “If the work stands that someone built upon the foundation, that person will receive a wage. But if someone’s work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire.” (v.14-15). That is how important building up the body and one another is! Our eternal destiny is tied up with how we build, how we treat each other, and how we acted to strengthen or weaken the body. Why? “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (v.16). We are temples of the Holy Spirit! And together we make up the body of Christ. If we act against Christ and the Spirit, weakening or dividing or destroying one another and thus the body, we stand condemned. “If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.” (v.17).

We must build up each other and the body, and be careful how we build.

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