Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain
Years ago, I drove past a home construction site where the foundation had been laid but the frame had yet to take shape. A small sign greeted everyone who came to the job site. It read: “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” ~ Psalm 127:1
I marveled at that bold expression of faith! What courage it took for that builder to proclaim his faith, on the job, everyday. What a privilege it must have been to work for someone who gave such thanks and demonstrated such humility.
I didn’t have that kind of courage. It felt much safer to keep things of faith inside the church building, so I looked around to learn how to do this God-thing right. The options were a bit overwhelming. Should I try to preach like a pastor? teach like a Sunday school teacher? facilitate like a study group leader? serve meals like the outreach leader? donate more to the budget like the finance leader? How did a Christian behave?
I was all in for the Kingdom, and I wanted to fully invest myself in building God’s house. Let’s beef up this church; it’s the Body of Christ here on earth after all. Better get busy! So I did what newbie’s do; I imitated others in search of the “me” I was supposed to be. Hey, I’ve got lots of gifts! I’ll be the whole house. Bring it on!
But the verse on that sign, Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain, really nagged at me. Whoever placed it probably attended worship regularly, read the Bible, put money in the offering plate and maybe even taught Sunday school, but I didn’t see that. What I saw was this profession of faith on public display at the job site. So, what’s God building in me? If God isn’t building my house, then whatever I am doing to spiff it up is completely in vain.
Talk about vanity, I had been looking around my church wondering which project I was supposed to be in charge of. No, Wendy, I’ve hired the job foreman and contracted for the skilled labor. You’re construction material, just like the rest of these whom I dearly love.
Okay then. Well, a quality house needs quality construction material. So, am I a brick? a cinder block? maybe a board, a joint, a slab of sheet rock, a pail of plaster? Perhaps paint, wall paper, a lighting fixture? Certainly not a roof truss! Maybe I’m cabinetry, an electrical outlet, a shingle or a shutter? Or I could even be sod or a landscape planting. None better than the other, all essential, each an expression of the builder’s careful craftsmanship.
Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit like a brick. Well, okay then, if I’m a brick, then I’ll be the best brick I can be. Not a bad thing, to be a brick in the house God is building: strong, steady, stable, keeping the crumbling to a minimum.
But just when I thought I had this brick-thing figured out, God showed me that He didn’t just make me a brick on the inside wall of his church. My brick faces outside, too. I’m meant to be construction material in all the things I am doing so that others who see, hear, read, or otherwise meet me might see the brick I am and come to know my Builder.
We of the family and lineage of God are all just building materials, sifted, stacked, cemented and nailed, into the house where the very Christ is our cornerstone. That builder’s got a blueprint.
I’m just a brick in that wall.