One of the main images used throughout the Bible to communicate what a church is to us is a house. It’s understood that attempting to build a house on a foundation that isn’t solid is a disaster waiting to happen.
An example of the wrong foundation
There was an example of a church in the New Testament story that was having foundation issues. They had formed multiple mini-groups of people based on who each of them preferred being mentored by. They had allowed their preferences regarding this to become their foundation and it was tearing them apart.
This was one example of selfishness manifesting itself. It was a disaster waiting to happen. Check out what Paul wrote to them in one of his letters…
For no one can lay a foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. (I Cor. 3:11)
Churches are built on all kinds of foundations.
The foundation of a house is what keeps it upright. It’s what’s put in first. It’s the strongest part of the house. You don’t start building the house until that’s right. If it’s not right, it doesn’t matter what paint colors you choose, the quality of the curtains, or how good the plumbing is. The house is in trouble.
What it means for Christ to be the foundation
So it’s just as important that Jesus followers understand not only that Christ IS the foundation of a church, but what it means for Him to BE the foundation of a church.
For many churches, it stops at their belief in Him. But it must go beyond this. There have been countless instances of churches where everyone believes in Christ, yet the church crumbles to the ground.
So what does it mean? It means the people understand how the Persons within God treat each other and commit to expressing that attitude and posture to one another. How the Father, Son and Spirit treat each other is the example for all healthy relationships.
It’s God-mirroring relationships that establish Christ as the foundation of a church. The community of God Himself, the fellowship and activity going on within Him, is the foundation that Paul is talking about.
A strong foundation in a church is one where the relationships that are what make up the church are committed to being built together by these types of relationships.
A commitment to His example
Of course a church will never be perfect at this. But, a strong foundation is relationships with an unrelenting commitment to always calibrate themselves to His example.
When the relationships aren’t built on this commitment to mutual submission and care for one another, it is built on other things. Those things are like sand.
What to watch for
The #1 sign a church is built on the wrong foundation is relationships easily crumble. Whether because of indifference or because of conflict, people aren’t built together like living stones that form the walls of His house.
It’s because they’ve never been truly equipped with an understanding of what it means for the foundation of a church to be Christ.
Because of this, people either maintain arm’s-distance relationships or they end up leaving in search of new ones.
What God wants
All He’s ever wanted was to have children and include them in the type of fellowship He’s been having from eternity past.
As brothers and sisters that are co-equal partners with Him and each other, they would display the same community with each other that exists within Him. That’s the only foundation His church can truly be built on.