I’m excited for this chapter because I love the analogies and illustrations Paul uses. He’s so good at this; I want to be like him when I grow up. But if I said that to him, he’d get a little huffy with me like he got huffy with the Corinthians. Because it isn’t following a man or woman that makes you a better person; it’s following God that makes you a better person.
Three analogies in this chapter:
- an infant nursing at the breast
- a plant growing
- a house / building / temple
I’ll keep my comments brief, because as always, I really want you to go back and read this chapter for yourself. That said, the first analogy…
How many people today would be classified as spiritual infants by Paul? Would he classify the entire American church as spiritual infants, or an entire movement like evangelicals, or an entire denomination like Southern Baptists? Of course not the Baptists! And definitely not the Presbyterians! But maybe the Penecostals? Or the Methodists? Or the Nazarenes? Or the Church of Christ or Church of God denominations? I say all of this tongue in cheek. It’s not a denomination or clique that matters, as Paul so appropriately explains in this chapter…and in many other letters. The point is that God knows the hearts, the maturity level, and the quality of each believer’s life. He knows if you’re a grown up or an infant in your relationship with him.
Which leads me to the plant growing… I would get so fired up a few years back when everyone talked about “being fed.” I just want to go somewhere where I’m going to be fed. I just need fed more. Blah, blah, blah. And I think this is true through the ages, but so many people look to the pastor or leader for the food. They think that person is the one who is the source of their nourishment. Wrong! The source of nourishment, or the source of the growth, as Paul says here, is God. It’s not the messenger. The messenger plants seeds; the good ones might even provide some living water via the Holy Spirit. But at the end of the day, your growth, your development, your maturity comes from what Christ does in you and what He does through His Word as those teachers share it. They’re just vessels. God is the source.
Which leads me to the home / building / temple… I wouldn’t consider these three separate analogies at this juncture, though I think Paul fleshes out each one more in separate letters or chapters; but here, I think he’s saying the same thing for all three of them. Be careful what materials you use to build. It’s like the classic story of the Three Little Pigs. If you use straw or even sticks & wood, your house will be blown down. It will be blown down when trials and wolves come. It will be blown down in the end at judgment day. You’ll survive, as Paul says, as long as your foundation was Christ. Because Christ is the solid rock on which we stand and build. But let me tell you, after living out west, the winds can come on a regular basis. And those winds can blow structures down. Better make sure you build with bricks.
You are privileged to be in union with Christ, who is in union with God. You and I both. Let’s build something great!