You are a brick in God’s building project

You are a brick in God’s building project

Like many people, I have a pile of bricks behind my shed in the backyard. They have been there as leftovers since the house was built over thirty years ago. At times, they come in handy. I have a few pot plants sitting on bricks and I have used them to weigh down the edges of tarpaulins or blankets. Most of the time, however, single bricks are not that useful. The usefulness of bricks comes when they are built together into something bigger.

Ephesians 2 uses this language to describe the church. After a discussion explaining the unity between Jews and Gentiles due to the work of Jesus (Eph 2:11-18), Paul explains what this unified community is like. It is like an unfinished building project. We are all being joined together into a structure, a temple in the Lord (Eph 2:20). The passive way of putting this means it is God who joins us together and who builds us into a united structure. We exist to worship God together.

The great preacher Spurgeon used this passage to describe all believers as bricks. Bricks are of limited use by themselves but are intended to be built into something. We must not see ourselves as individuals, but our identity is as part of a church. We belong to something bigger. Each of us is more useful and closer to what we are intended to be when we are involved in the local church.

This goes part of the way to explain why unity is such a big issue in the New Testament. Over and over, unity in the local church is encouraged. We must not form factions like the Corinthians, split over those who are more spiritual than others (also in 1 and 2 Corinthians), or show favouritism between rich and poor (as in James). It matters that we strive for unity in the local church, being equal before God and working to the same end.

There is a problem with the brick image, like all images. It might give you the sense that our role and input into the local church is fixed as a brick is unchanging. But the language in Ephesians 2 is dynamic; we are being joined together, growing in our unity. We are being built into a temple. We are all works in progress. Over time, we should be growing in our service of one another and in godliness.

Each local church is a work in progress. We are being built together. We welcome new people and cope with the loss of previous members. We find new ways to serve, sometimes with new ministry structures, sometimes just with individual initiatives. Over time, we should be more united and a better representation of a temple in the Lord.

The local church is a miracle of unity; a variety of sinful people being built into something wonderful. Let’s strive to build one another up to the glory of God. As individual bricks, we can support others as we are supported, with the whole structure being a testimony to the grace of God shown to us in Jesus.