A Cross-Shaped Life: Building God’s Home

27 Feb A Cross-Shaped Life: Building God’s Home

A Cross-Shaped Life:  Building God’s Home
1 Corinthians 3:10-23
February 28, 2021
Michelle Fincher
Calvary Presbyterian Church

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Rebellion.  Individualism.  Anti-authoritarianism.  Progressive thought.  No, I’m not describing our current political stalemate.  I’m talking about punk-rock culture.  

Punk was born in the mid-’70s, taking the same rebellious spirit of ’60s protest music but making the music faster and more aggressive.  One of the defining characteristics of punk bands is that they are fiercely independent and pride themselves on a do-it-yourself (DIY) ideal.  Punk music is basically the opposite of anything Wal-Mart: anti-corporate, anti-commercial, anti-little-yellow-smiley-logo.

Perhaps you are unaware that over the past decade, in some locations higher education adopted some of these same do-it-yourself attitudes toward teaching and learning practices.  It even has a name:  edupunk which is a term that was coined in a 2008 blog by a man named Jim Groom, a technologist from the University of Mary Washington.  Edupunk describes an anti-institutional approach to education in which students take learning into their own hands.  They forgo conventional teaching tools like PowerPoint or Blackboard, for new ones like free online videos, blogs, open-source textbooks, and experiential learning.

The focus of edupunk is learning through any means that will truly instruct. What these students don’t want is expensive lectures in stale auditoriums followed by multiple-choice tests.  Rather, they learn what they want, when they want, however they want.

British edupunk Brian Frank sees growing acceptance of self-directed learning as the workplace slowly moves away from the “tyranny of credentials.”  What you know is becoming more important than where or how you learned it.

Some people might claim that the edupunk movement is just a rebellious teenager who will grow up one day, go to college and get a real job.  Past movements were similarly dismissed: iPods replacing CDs, reading books on Kindle, Facebook as a form of community, belief in a round earth … those kinds of things.
I bring up the notion of edupunks because they have something important in common with the Apostle Paul in today’s text.  Edupunks are concerned with where, what, and how they learn, and Paul is concerned with similar issues for growing the Christian life: where to build, what to build, and how to build it.    

Where to build
Every building starts with a foundation.  The foundation of the edupunk movement is acquiring knowledge — no matter how you do it.  That’s the bottom line that supports everything else.

Paul’s movement has a foundation as well, but cultural influences were causing confusion in the Corinthian church about what that foundation was.  They were founding their status on who had developed their faith.  It was a version of spiritual name-dropping, not unlike people today who boast about where they attended school.

Having just used an agricultural metaphor to demonstrate the equality of all believers in vs. 5-9, Paul now reiterates his point with a construction metaphor.  As a skilled and wise craftsman, beginning in chapter one, Paul laid his foundation, and that foundation is the wisdom of Christ.  This wisdom is not of Paul or any other human leader (2:4-5), and it appeared foolish to the world (1:18). But it was God-given and available to all who had the Spirit (2:12-15).

So the foundation of the Christian life is, in simplest terms, Jesus Christ.  Jesus’ forgiveness, redemption and guidance undergirds our lives.  And anyone who has God’s Spirit is given this foundation.

This is universal access.  Not humanly granted by clergy.  Not institutionally granted by the church.  An equal playing field for all of us.  Regardless of denomination.  Regardless of how many years we’ve followed Christ.  Regardless of our past.  Regardless of what we know.  We all have the same bottom line: our foundation is Jesus Christ.

What to build
Now that we know where we’re building—on the foundation of Christ—the next question is, what are we to build?  Although the hallowed halls of education are unimportant to edupunks, the building is very important to Christians.

What do I mean by that?  Let’s back up and take a quick biblical survey of the physical location of God’s presence.  God is omnipresent, yet people have known God’s tangible presence to reside in specific places:
• Genesis 11: God in the heavens — people build a tower to reach him.
• Exodus 20: God atop a mountain — people terrified to approach him.
• Exodus 25: God in a tabernacle — people can carry his presence on their journey.
• 2 Chronicles 6: God in a temple — the permanent home of God’s presence on earth.
• Mark 15: God on the loose — the temple veil torn; anyone, not just the priests, can access God’s presence.
• 1 Corinthians 3: God in human temples — people have become God’s new home, his presence within them.

Seen in this broader context, Paul’s words in verses 16-17 are stunning! God’s presence moves from the cosmic to the corporate to the individual.  God frees himself from physical buildings to inhabit the people God has been building.

Imagine being a good Jew in first century Corinth.  You know the precise attention to detail that God prescribed for the tabernacle and temple.  Everything exactly as God wanted it, befitting the Creator of the universe.  Only the finest craftsmen.  Gold, linens, acacia wood — lavish goods used in construction.  God’s home in the tabernacle and especially in the temple were like HGTV’s Dream Home meets the Torah.

But now, all of that is replaced by God’s people.  People are the ornate home of God’s presence!  The institution of the temple is now the individual.  Friends, that is mind-blowing.  Think about the implications: 


  • What does this say about God’s desire for intimacy with us?
  • What does it say about how we treat our bodies? Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated the Jerusalem temple with pig blood. What desecrations are we allowing into our own temples in the form of thoughts, attitudes or habits? 
  • How do we view prayer if God is “in here” and not just “out there”?
  • Wherever a believer goes, the temple mission of God goes, as well.

    On the foundation of Christ, this building is magnificent.  Sacred.  Inspired. Hallowed.  God is crafting a permanent home in which he is pleased to dwell atop the foundation of his Son.  That building is us — the people of God.

    How to build
    The foundation is Christ.  The building is us, God’s people.  Now for the building plan, the “how” of what we’re building, and Paul says two things.
    First, the plan will feel counterintuitive(vv. 18-19).  The Christian life requires, from the culture’s perspective, downward mobility rather than the upward mobility the culture lauds and expects.  Think of all the ways in which that’s the case: instead of self-reliance and earning our own way, we rely on Jesus and his grace.  Instead of getting mad and getting even, we forgive those who wrong us.  Instead of self-seeking and getting ahead, we humbly serve those in need.  The list goes on and on, and it’s societal foolishness.

    So if you ever feel that living your faith is strange to those around you, you’re probably in a good place.  If our lives blend in so that there is nothing countercultural or counterintuitive about us, it’s time to examine what we’re building and whether it might be spiritual foolishness.

    Second, we’ve already been given all we need for life and faith(vv. 21-23).  The Corinthians were feeling wise by society’s standards: self-promotion through credentials.  They felt the need to prove their merit.  But ultimately, they already had everything they could need or want in Christ.

    In the same way, we, too, have been given “all things.”  We need no credentials. We can all access the same spiritual blessings because God resides in each of us.  The rivalry of pedigree is unnecessary.

    Our spiritual growth doesn’t depend on who teaches us, where we go to church, or who we’ve read recently.  These are useful tools in building our spiritual lives, but ultimately, there’s no boasting in human influence.  As Paul said earlier in the chapter, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth” (v. 6).

    You can see the edupunk spirit alive in Paul’s words.  We have everything we need to grow because it is God who grows us, and God has already given us all things.

    The foundation is Christ.  The building that holds God’s presence is us.  The way our lives are built will feel both countercultural and universally accessible at the same time.

    It turns out there’s a little punk in all of us.  And it doesn’t even require that you do something rash with your hairstyle.


Thanks be to God.  Amen.

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