"For we are God's fellow-workers. You are God's field, God's building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it." (1 Cor 3.9-10)
Groundwork is always messy. I remember digging out the footings for my extension some 7 years ago and how messy and mucky we got (and thank the Lord for hired mechanical diggers...). Many skips of earth later, and then suddenly the rains came. Our 2 metre-deep trenches flooded and the walls began collapsing, dishearteningly. So, more mess and mud and screaming back muscles later and finally we had shored up the damaged areas, emptied the trenches of rainwater, and filled them with 7 tons of concrete. Was it worth it? Well, there wasn't much to see, to be honest: a large area of sticky clay, some grey patches of concrete lying dormant in the holes and not much else to appreciate. It wasn't pretty and it wasn't particularly inspiring. But now, sitting in my beautiful kitchen-diner, with mod-cons for cooking and a fancy-pants roof and a great space to entertain in, I can definitely say it was worth it.
Foundations do not typically contribute to the architectural aesthetics of a building, do they? They're hidden below ground, where (hopefully!) they'll never be seen again. But the fruit of building them well will always be noticeable. Without solid foundations, a building can collapse at any moment, and God's Church is exactly the same. The metaphor of comparing the Church to a building is not simply a human whim, it is entirely Biblical. Jesus told Peter He would "build" His church upon the "rock" (Peter's nickname), Paul refers to the concept in Romans and 1 Corinthians, and Peter himself and the writer to the Hebrews both write on the same theme. Overwhelmingly, the Bible tells us to build well: and not just the foundations, but everything on top as well. Each part of the process must be deliberate and Christ-centred.
We are entering into a new season at Beacon, and some of the near future could seem messy. As we restructure our small groups, and re-evaluate why we do certain things, and look to the future promises God has prepared for us and how we can act in that light, let us remember that these current times are foundations for the future. Let's do this well, together, praying with and for each other; despite the mud, the back-ache and the occasional delay, let's remember that as long as everything is Christ-centred, Bible-based and hence wise and deliberate (like the wise man of Matthew 7), the future fruits can be magnificent.