Audio clip and bulletin notes for a sermon preached at Morden Mennonite on Feb. 12, 2017, in a series called “Jesus: Our Church’s One Foundation.”
This sermon continues our reflection on Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians through the story of Gaia, a fictional woman in first-century Corinth. In this sermon Gaia experiences first-hand what Paul means when he talks about the church as a scattered-seed garden or an active temple still under construction, and Christians as “God’s co-labourers” in this work (1 Corinthians 3:5-17).
Audio: “Co-Labourers with Jesus”
- The church in Corinth was a church divided over sexuality and marriage, spirituality and worship. There were factions within the church, each with its favourite theology and preferred leaders. Underneath all this were questions over how to faithfully follow Jesus within a diverse and changing culture.
- Paul has called on the church to focus their attention on Jesus and Jesus’ way of love: “Christ crucified.” This is where Christian unity lies, and this is the mark of Christian maturity and spirituality.
- In 1 Corinthians 3 Paul now turns their attention to the diversity around that unity. He uses two images here, and a third later in the letter: the church as a garden, a temple, and a body. All three metaphors highlight the reality that the church is made up of very different people in terms of their temperament, convictions, abilities, and roles, yet all can work together toward a common purpose in ways that complement each other.
- Paul also uses an unusual phrase in 1 Corinthians 3:9: we are “God’s co-labourers.” The idea is this: Jesus calls different people with different gifts and backgrounds to work together with him in kingdom-planting and church-building.
Questions to Ponder:
- What difference would it make in my daily life if I thought of myself as “Jesus’ co-worker,” working alongside Jesus to expand God’s kingdom and build Christ’s church?
- What difference would it make in our church if we thought of other Christians as “Jesus’ co-workers” with us—even those who are very different from us in temperament, convictions, abilities, and roles?