My husband started building a house before I met him. A large hole was dug in the ground the size and shape of the foundation that was to be poured. Just as he had planned, the house built on top of the foundation followed the plans accordingly. If anything is measured incorrectly or not square, then difficulties arise along the way causing the house to not be structurally sound. If supports are missing the structure could eventually cave in. If we change materials in the midst of the construction to cheaper materials to cut costs, we could end up with quite a flimsy mess.Could you imagine if we built a chicken coop instead of a house on the foundation? The foundation and the structure must match to be viable.
Something similar is at work for Christians in the church. My first husband, who was a pastor, and I learned quickly how important it is for a solid foundation of Bible understanding to be set. What we noticed in several churches is that some of the long-time believers had odd ideas about faith and life. Why? Because critical elements were missing in their basic Bible knowledge. They stayed with the same Sunday school teacher for years as adults. They also had learned some quirky ideas from their godly parents and grandparents! At every church he pastored, we began a series of studies to help fill gaps and correct errors in their understanding. It was all done with a guided self-discovery form of teaching. As they began to pick up these missing pieces, awesome spiritual growth happened!
The challenges for a broader understanding in the Christian church come with differing views based on the teachings they receive. These teachings trickle through generations of believers settling into the very fabric of the organization. The style of worship and the church education structure shouldn't become a divisive issue among Christians. Neither should the doctrinal differences as long as the foundational beliefs that distinguish us as Christian remain intact. Have you ever heard church people proudly announce their church affiliation or place their pastor's name on the church sign out front? If someone is disgruntled that a pastor left the church, do they follow him to the next one? Do they mouth word for word what Pastor So-and-so or a Bible study leader said, using it as justification for their stance on a certain topic? Those who preach and teach have a scary responsibility.
In 1 Corinthians 3:1-17, people were too busy claiming certain teachers as their mentor, refusing to follow any other. But Paul corrects the believers at the church in Corinth. He tells them that all of the leaders who share Christ with them and teach them the Scriptures are simply God’s agents who work together to build the Kingdom of God. None of them had the power to save anyone on their own.
Paul also goes on to tell them that each teacher or pastor who builds on the foundation someone starts must do so carefully. Each one is responsible for what he or she is using to build on the foundation of people’s Christian faith because each person is a temple to God. The worker who builds with precious, valuable teachings will be rewarded accordingly. However, the one who builds with flimsy teachings will have those teachings tested with fire. That one will be scorched by the test of fire, but still saved. What a sobering thought when I think of the “church-lite” stuff floating around the internet and showing up as church curriculum. The very one whom we serve will test our teachings!
In my theology class at Boyce Bible School, James P. Boyce was noted for saying something in one of his sermons about how a man carefully laid out the plans of a skyscraper. He set the foundation for that magnificent building. Then he gathered loose wood from the area and built a chicken coop! How many of us allow that to happen to us spiritually? How many of us who teach do that to those who listen to our teachings? Far too many I am afraid. Following a person instead of Christ warps our understanding of Christian faith over time because each person who teaches is just that-- a person, not God. God works through pastors, teachers, and even parents laying a spiritual foundation and building upon it. We should learn from many godly teachers to help us develop a balanced view of Scripture. Those of us who build need to be careful what and how we teach the people who count on us to bring the word of God to life for them. We should never be upset because someone also learns from another godly teacher who teaches God’s word accurately. We are all God’s workers through whom He works. Poor study on our part will result in poor teaching. Let’s build solid foundations and skyscrapers instead of chicken coops!
May God bless you!