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When my wife and I moved into our current house, behind the overgrown conifers, tucked behind an apple tree was a shed, it wasn’t pretty shed, it had seen better days and it quickly received its demolition notice. However to dismantle it, took no toys of shed destruction, nor any tools, just a well-positioned push so that one end collapsed inwards resulting the desired effect of the walls following suit and the roof caving in with a mild crack… If sheds had souls, then this one was happy that I had put it out of its misery.

But spades, forks and lawnmowers still needed to be stored away from elements and away from the temptation of a hurricane handed toddler, so a new shed was purchased and over a week painted. In-between coats, soil was removed to lay some grit and stamped level, followed by some sand and then then concrete slabs laid. I convinced my brother that an evening drinking beer in the spring sun was much needed and once he arrived I said we also needed to put a shed up…he called me some choice names…but I hid his car keys so he couldn’t leave! So we started building the shed, getting the base in the right position, then one side and then next before the ends. Adding the roof and then hanging the doors. In between the huffing and puffing of this dynamic non-DIY double team, we grabbed at drills, screwdrivers manual and electric. We hammered and cut roofing felt, we even used a saw to cut bits off where it obviously wasn’t manufactured properly and had nothing to do with our DIY skills. And long after the sun had set, we stepped back to admire our handiwork by torchlight and to misquote Genesis 1 ‘we saw that it was good.’

But can you imagine if it just me, with no brother and no tools to build this shed. Just my body, imagine me trying to scratch a pilot hole for a screw and then twisting that screw into place by getting my finger nail into the thread. Or kicking a nail into the wood with my foot and trying to cut a piece of wood to size by biting it. It would be impossible and if it were possible extremely painful.

But this is the image that our reading from Jerimiah portrays, Humans acting on their own strength and not needing help.

Verse 5 says:

‘Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord.’ 

The message translation then calls those people a ‘tumbleweed on the prairie…’ illustrating a person drifting as the wind directs them.

As Christians we are called to build the church, not just the physical buildings, but to build communities of people who together can explore faith, a faith that helps them in the everyday of life, but to do that we need God.

But please don’t hear what I am not saying…God is not a Tool that we can pick up and put down, but God is the builder of church and invites us to join with him to build it. This is a privilege and an honour that we are invited as the co-builder of these faith communities in which we find ourselves.

Our gospel reading of Luke 6:17-26 gives us an image of what the church should look like. In v. 17-18 we read that people came from afar and had their needs meet, because they were all healed.

And after that Jesus teaches, note he doesn’t teach first… he heals first and teaches second.And his teaching sets a new standard of behaviour, motioning that the inward qualities are more important than the outward actions. The Bible Commenter Michael Wilcock comments is a 

‘remarkable reversal of values… Christians will prize what the world calls pitiable and suspect that the world thinks desirable’[1]

Jesus turns the whole thing on its head, as if it were a table in a synagogue.

We do not build church to make a monument for ourselves or to make ourselves feel better, We do not build the church in our own strength. We build a church…

to serve the broken,

to feed the hungry,

to clothe the naked,

to defend the oppressed,

to free the captive,

to love the unloved,

to bring hope to the broken.

This church… His church… is built for His Glory and we get watch, we get to listen and very occasionally we get to pass the screwdriver.

Questions

  • Think about your skills and abilities, How can you use them to help to could the church?
  • Why did Jesus heal first and teach second? Do our churches look to teach first and help second?



[1] Wilcox, M. (1979) The message of Luke. IVP. P.86