gods wcoworkerss

God’s Co-workers

Bible Readings:

  • Deuteronomy 30:15–20
  • 1 Corinthians 3:1–9

Deuteronomy 30:15 tells us, “I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity.” Either they would choose life and prosperity, or they would decide on death and destruction. It means that God offers Israel options: life remaining faithful to Yahweh or death for rebelling against him. Moses urged the people to choose life, pointing out that the Lord was their life. Real life consists of loving the Lord, letting his ways guide one’s path and growing in his character.

Deuteronomy 30 is about the right relationship with God rather than by which to live. Faithfulness to God and God’s ways are life-giving. Although Israel is destined to suffer because of disobedience to the covenant, that will not be the end of the story. The nation’s repentance will come when its heart is changed, and with that repentance will come restoration and prosperity. A healthy relationship with God is built on the internal changes he brings about through Christ. The Lord is our life. May we attach ourselves in love and submission to the Lord who is our life and gives restoration.

Believers are of great value, and they deserve to be treated well by other believers. May we treat other believers with respect, not looking down on them or acting toward them with arrogance. If there are divisions in churches or communities, may we try to reconcile unrighteous divisions as peacemakers in Christ. Divisions in the church are contrary to the gospel.

However, the Corinthian church seems to have been full of conflict and division. In 1 Corinthians 3:1–9, Paul cautions against jealousy and competition within the Christian community. Paul’s address reminded the Corinthians that they were all brothers and sisters of one another, and that they should have been united rather than divided. Those who are jealous of one another are not living according to God’s way. Instead, they act in immature ways. Although they were believers, they acted like unbelievers by quarrelling and being jealous. As Christians, how should we handle conflict and problems within the Body of Christ? 

The Corinthians displayed their immaturity by showing loyalties to certain human leaders in the church. Paul pointed out this practice wrong by reminding them of the true nature of Christian leadership. He described leadership by using two metaphors, portraying the church as a plant in need of cultivation and as a building in need of builders.

When people first become believers, they begin lifelong journeys toward spiritual maturity. However, many believers often return to what they were before they believed in Christ. The Holy Spirit had indwelt the Corinthian believers, but the Spirit’s sanctifying work had not progressed far when Paul had first ministered to them. The Corinthians were unable to take the solid food of Christian teaching because they were spiritual infants in Christ. 

Jesus insisted that the greatest in his kingdom must be the least (Luke 22:26). Paul and Apollos were servants for the Lord. As God’s servants, church leaders carry out their responsibilities as the Lord has assigned. They are the servants of all. Worldly leaders seek to force their own ways on others, but Christian leaders seek to follow the will of God. When they were still worldly and remained immature in their faith acting like unbelievers, Paul uses the metaphor of the garden to show that God gives life and growth when we work together. 

In verse 6, Paul explained that he had planted the seed by bringing the gospel to Corinth. Apollos, in turn, watered the seed that Paul had planted. Without a sower, there would have been nothing to water. Without someone to take care of the growing seed, it may as well not have been planted. Paul and Apollos simply served the Lord who made them grow. Their human leadership accomplished nothing without the power of the Holy Spirit. Also, they planted and watered because God told them to do so. It was God’s power and will that the blessing of salvation came upon the Corinthian church. 

God deserves all the credit for the blessings believers receive, but the Corinthians placed the credits on human leaders. The church and its leaders who are planting and watering were instruments used by God who makes things grow. If planting is not done correctly, plants may not grow and develop properly. If watering is not done adequately, plants may become stressed, wilt, or even die.

The planter and the one watering have one purpose – seeing the church grow and bear fruit. They did not oppose one another as the Corinthians had boasted, but they were unified. They served the same Lord, and they will be rewarded according to their own labour. Gardening requires patience as plants take time to grow and develop. May we learn to appreciate the process of growth and the rewards that come with it.

Only God makes things grow. In accordance with God’s words, we are God’s co-workers, God’s field, and God’s building. God loves his church and dwells in us. Jesus shows us a new way of being human, of being peacemakers, of reconciling conflict, of telling the truth.

Paul stated that he and Apollos were God’s fellow workers. They formed a team, working together in God’s service. Each one needed the other to fulfill the divine goal. The Corinthian church was God’s field, not theirs. God was the church’s ultimate leader, and the church as God’s possession was under God’s leadership. Today’s text illustrates the fact that God was building a unified God’s field, not a divided church. However, the Corinthians struggled to destroy what God was building by quarrelling and dividing.

What does it mean to live in ways that restore relationships and strengthen community? Martin Luther suggested that Christians should begin each day by remembering our baptism, for in baptism one participates in the dying and rising of Christ. It also reminds us of dying and rising with Christ and sets us on a path of walking with our woundedness to find life therein. Jesus Christ is always the primary focus of the church’s loyalty. We must be loyal to Christ, not to human leaders. We are God’s co-workers. May we deepen our relationship with God and participate in God’s work in our lives. 

When we hold fast to God from the heart, may we encounter God in Christ, who heals our wounds. We are all in God’s beautiful garden, and we are individually God’s field at the same time. For this beautiful God’s Garden, some need to do dig holes for planting, and others need to provide moisture through watering as an ongoing process. There are differences between sowing and planting, planting requires lots of effort. Planting and watering are both important aspects of gardening and must be done correctly according to plants or soils. 

We have the joy of using our gifts as members of Christ’s Church which is his body continuing His ministry in the world today. Most importantly, God will grow us in Christ. We are God’s co-workers. May we be more mature in Christ and serve the Lord and others. I pray that we as God’s co-worker promise to love, encourage and support our brothers and sisters in faith, that they may grow in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Knowledge and love of God. May we seek God’s help to live out our baptism and the gospel as a loving community in Christ: nurturing one another in faith, upholding one another in prayer, and encouraging one another in service, until Christ comes. 

Thanks be to God! Amen.
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)