1 Corinthians 3:10-15, “10By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13his 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 man’s work. 14If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.”
Jesus Christ is the foundation and cornerstone of Christianity. If we were to think of the religion in general as a building, it would not be up to code. While the building would have one foundation, some rooms would have another foundation. Such foundations would be imperfect, cracked, unlevel, and unreliable. Other rooms would have awkward layouts, the wrong things in the wrong places, and seem a little bit off. Somewhere in the building is a perfect room, ancient and unused as over the years people chose other rooms. Some of the other rooms are very similar to that perfect room, with only a few changes. Some rooms are entirely unrecognizable. Some rooms are a lively party, while others contain only a few stout souls. With so many builders, it is a wonder that the exterior walls look proper. The original foundation is solid, but it is impossible to tell what other parts of the structure are solid as well.
Even in the days when the Apostles were the builders, other people decided to preach the same message in the hopes that they would increase their wealth. They didn’t bother familiarize themselves with the apostles’ message. They made it up as they went along. It didn’t take long before all sorts of beliefs were accepted by some churches and rejected by others. This passage tells us that there will come a day when the entire structure is tested. I happen to think that so long as you are set on the sure foundation, you will be saved. But if you have set up camp in a room with two foundations, an awkward layout, and it is all burned up, then your reward will go up with it.
The context of the passage is about the divisions within the Corinthian church. Modern Christianity’s fractured nature makes them seem like a group singing kumbayah around a camfire. The building only symbolizes the work of a believer. The actual temple is in the believer’s heart, and there’s no forgiveness for the man who destroys that.