Fellow Workers with God

St. Paul Preaching at Corinth

We are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become manifest; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.     (1 Corinthians 3:9-17)

All Christians are called to love one another, which often translates into being called into ministry and service.  Being a Christian is not a spectator’s sport.  We are in the arena, working with and for God.  We are supposed to be constantly in the process of building up the church (note the words edification and edifice are related!).  We are to come to the Liturgy prepared to work, to do all of the things commanded of us in the Liturgy – to pray, to pay attention, to lift up our hearts, to give thanks to the Lord, to love one another, to listen to the Gospel, to take and eat the Body of Christ, to give praise, to bless the Lord, etc.  St. John Chrysostom put it bluntly: 

St. Paul Inspiring St. John Chrysostom

“‘We hear that some of you,’ St Paul goes on, ‘are living in idleness, not doing any work.’  Even if they were passing the time in prayer and fasting, they would not be doing the manual work of which the Apostle is speaking.

He concludes: ‘Such persons we command and exhort in the name of the Lord Jesus to do their work in quietness and to earn their own living.’

Paul does not say: ‘If they are idler, let the community keep them.’ On the contrary, he demands two things: that they keep quiet, and that they work! “ (St.John Chrysostom On the Second Letter to the Thessalonians in Drinking from the Hidden Fountain – A Patristic Breviary, pg. 279)

Christ did not come into the world to be served, but rather to serve.  Neither should we show up at the Liturgy expecting to be served – we are there to imitate Christ, which means we are there to serve others.