Make This Place Our Home: Framed Right
I Cor. 3:10-15
My dad was a bricklayer from the old country, who ended up as a concrete worker in Canada and became quite good at pouring foundations and footings.
Maybe it’s because of this that I have always noticed foundations being poured, and to this day will notice the hole in the ground and wonder about the kind of building will go up.
So the weirdest thing for me is to see a foundation poured and then nothing else happens? That’s just plain crazy. It’s like: “Ok, what happened there? Who messed up here?”
I remember driving by a particular site one day where somebody had put in a foundation and framed it up to ground level and then seemingly walked away. They had let it sit there, with nothing else being done to it.
Being the son of a foundation framer, I would notice that and it drove me crazy. I had no idea what happened.
Maybe they ran out of money, or maybe there was a zoning issue, or someone shut them down; but this half-baked thing would sit there as a monument to someone’s failure.
Foundations are meant to be built upon. Foundations are not to sit as holes in the ground or as unfinished cement bunkers but are meant to be built on.
In fact, foundations are not to be seen. They are to sit underneath, and undergirding what is built on top of it. They are meant as invisible support systems underneath the structure.
What is to be noticed and seen is the structure itself. So there is nothing worse than a foundation with nothing built on it.
The House of the Lord
My point is that we are building a house at Scott St Church and it goes far beyond a foundation. It’s not a physical house, but a spiritual house, the house of the Lord.
Peter talks about this when he wrote: “You are being built into a spiritual house.” I Peter 2:5
And, of course, the context is making sure that this spiritual house is being built on the strong foundation of Jesus Christ, which is what we talked about last week.
Our foundation is who we are at our core, our mission, if you will, the thing undergirds everything we do and are about.
For us our foundation is the good news of Jesus as Savior, lived out within our church family and shared with all.
That’s our mission: “to be a loving family who embraces the good news of Jesus and shares it with everyone.”
That’s our foundation – the good news that Jesus saves, which we live out within our church family, and share with all.
Yet a foundation by itself makes no sense. It’s meant to hold up something and to have something built on it, which is exactly what we are doing here at Scott St.
The family of God needs a home; and a home we are building.
With a strong foundation of the good news of Jesus we are seeing a structure rise up that is a spiritual home for many in the north end of St Catharines.
What that looks like is thrilling and exciting. Our blueprints and architectural design looks something like this:
“We want to step into God’s dream for the North End that sees us becoming a welcoming spiritual community where we live out passionate faith, support personal growth, provide holistic care, match resources with needs and spark innovation.”
That is our vision and dream. This is our version of what Peter said: “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9
The house that we are building, in which we are these living stones that make it happen, is about us as a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation and God’s special possession to the glory of God.
This is like us saying this is what we want to be: “a welcoming spiritual community where we live out passionate faith, support personal growth, provide holistic care, match resources with needs and spark innovation.”
That’s what it looks like. That’s the artist’s rendering and architectural blueprints. That’s the shape and look of this dream house of ours right here in the north end.
Next time we are going to unwrap what that looks like in greater detail.
Gold, Silver and Precious Stones
This morning the question is: “What are the raw materials that we are building with?”
Paul talks about raw materials. In his day people would be built with hay, wood or straw, or they would build with gold, silver and precious stones.
“10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 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 person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.” 1 Cor. 3:10-15
That was the house of the Lord that Paul and his peers were building in the city of Corinth.
He laid down a foundation that was meant to be built upon.
The foundation was rock solid: “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ”.
So people came and began to build using a variety of raw materials, some of which were cheap and wouldn’t last, and some of which would last forever.
Raw materials were as essential as the foundation. There was no sense using great raw material on a flawed foundation, and also no sense building on a strong foundation using raw materials that would blow over.
They wanted to be careful to use gold, silver and precious stones for these would last and stand the test of time.
Our Raw Materials
So what are the raw materials that we are to use? What are the gold, silver and precious stones for us?
So here is what we are building with. This is what we are about. These are our raw materials:
But really, what these are are the raw materials that we are using and the things that we are all about.
This is our cement and sand that gets mixed together. These are our deeply held convictions and priorities. This is what matters to us and what we keep in mind as we give shape to the house of the Lord.
Now notice something really interesting about these raw materials. Notice how they actually fall into two categories.
One category has to do with God and the other category has to do with “the other” with both finding their inspiration in the two Great Commandments.
What are the two Great Commandments? It was what Jesus gave in response to being asked that very question:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matt. 22:36-40
Love for God and love for your neighbor. Nothing more matters. Righteousness and justice. Vertical and horizontal.
Those are the building blocks and raw materials we are using. That’s what we are mixing together into our cement.
I can tell you that none of us started out with this. No one sat down and tried to figure out how to flesh out the Great Commandment.
We simply asked people what mattered to them and was important, and we came up with this list of raw material or core values and interestingly enough it mirrors the Great Commandments!
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.”
If that isn’t PASSION FOR GOD running deep in our hearts, PRAYER guiding all of our movements, WORSHIP that is meaningful and heartfelt and DEVOTION to Christ and His cause as normal for every believer then I don’t know what loving God with all your heart, soul and mind is!
“And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”
If that isn’t seen in how everyone should be WELCOMED AND EMBRACED, how FAMILIES should be strong and united and how the church should always be a place of SAFETY then I don’t know what loving your neighbor as yourself means.
In fact, I am going to ask Tim and Lydia to speak to these two groups of raw materials that we hold near and dear.
Raw Materials Matter
In wrapping this up, I think we know that next to the foundation the kind of raw materials we use matters the most.
If you build with wood, hay and straw, then you know what will happen. It will flare up, blow away or simply collapse. You might be able to throw something together but it simply will not stand the test of time.
I am so glad that our church is using the gold, silver and precious stones of the Great Commandments.
So glad that our church is not only building on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Jesus Christ our Lord as the chief cornerstone but that our church is building with the raw materials of love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.
The shape of what we are building and the size of what we are building matters less than the foundation it’s built on, and the raw materials it’s built with.
Next time we are going to talk about the shape and size but I needed to first talk about foundation and raw materials.
So do you like what you are hearing thus far? Are you with us so far? Are you ready to put your hands into the raw materials and mix up the cement of loving God and loving others?
Remember that none of us are bystanders but that we are the living stones:
“As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:4-5
Here you can find several messages. Feel free to write your thoughts or questions in the comment section.