By David Faust
If you were asked to sing a duet, what musician would you select to sing harmony with you? If you could run a marathon with a great athlete trotting alongside, who would you want for your companion? If you started a new company, who would you choose for your business partner?
Here’s an amazing fact: we are partners with God.
Jesus hinted at it in the Gospels when he said, “Take my yoke upon you” (Matthew 11:29). A yoke binds oxen together so they pull the plow side-by-side. The Lord sent his disciples to “bear much fruit,” sharing with them the inside scoop about the “master’s business” (John 15:8-16). He said, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (20:21).
We are the Lord’s field reps—his ambassadors in the world. The Great Commission is a great “co-mission.” Remarkably, the Creator of the universe invites us to participate in his redemptive work. The apostle Paul said, “For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:9).
The church is “God’s field.” It’s the soil where the gospel grows, the environment where faith takes root.
A city dweller might drive past a field and see nothing but dirt. When a farmer looks at a field, though, he sees opportunity and responsibility. The ground must be tilled, seeds must be planted, weeds must be pulled, water and fertilizer must be applied. By God’s design the end result is a crop that feeds families and fuels the economy.
What do you see when you look at the church? Some see nothing but dirt; but God sees people who, when properly nurtured, will bear much fruit. That’s why he assigns workers different tasks on his farm. “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow” (1 Corinthians 3:6). Life is God’s gift. We can cooperate with God-created natural laws, but no human being gives a seed the power to germinate. “So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (v. 7).
Many books have been written about church growth, but it all boils down to a couple of basic principles: teach the Word and love the people. From the human side, pretty much everything we do to grow the church falls into one of those categories; but ultimately the Lord alone gets credit for the harvest.
Paul also described the church as “God’s building,” and this building has a solid foundation. “By the grace God has given me,” Paul observed, “I laid a foundation as a wise builder . . . For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ” (vv. 10, 11).
This is no ordinary building. Speaking of the church, Paul says, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple” (vv. 16, 17). How would you feel if someone entered your house and tore up your furniture and scattered garbage on the floor? How do you think God feels when people trash his church?
God is an expert farmer, architect, and builder. He is growing an abundant crop and constructing a beautiful temple. Can he rely on us to be faithful partners in the work?
1. What job are you currently doing in partnership with God?
2. What seeds will you plant this week in God’s field?
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of The Lookout.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for April 6, 2014
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
1 Corinthians 1:1–17
Joshua 1, 2
1 Corinthians 1:18–31
1 Corinthians 2
Joshua 6, 7
1 Corinthians 3
Joshua 8, 9
1 Corinthians 4
1 Corinthians 5
Joshua 13, 14