"For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:11
There are so many strong Christian leaders I have become a fan of over the years; Francis Chan, Timothy Keller, Beth Moore, the list could go on, yet none of these leaders can lay a foundation on their own. None of them are strong enough, wise enough, or holy enough.
Only one can lay the foundation and that is Jesus Christ.
In the third chapter of Corinthians, Paul is frustrated at the Corinthian believers because they insist on dividing into camps. There are those who follow Paul, those who follow Apollos, and even some who claim to follow Peter, though we have no record of him ever being in Corinth! Paul responds to this division by reminding the Corinthian church that each of these leaders they follow are all merely workers. It is the Lord who assigned them their task (1 Cor 3:5). This reminder still bears repeating today. Two thousand years after Paul spoke these words, we are faced with more divisions then ever before. There are Catholic/ Protestant Divisions, divisions between and among denominations, churches, and leaders.
The foundation for all of this, in Paul's day and in ours, is Jesus Christ. He is the foundation that all the different workers will build on. But Paul warns the church of Corinth to be careful what they put on top of this foundation, some materials were made to last and others were not. Today we have leaders who promise prosperity for all who believe. Some leaders tell us we can have it all - the American dream and a strong Christian faith. Some leaders tell us we can believe what we want and we will all go to heaven. There are many, many different types of materials that have been placed on the foundation Christ laid. But only one that is true.
Paul warns the Corinthian church to choose their materials wisely, because there will come a day when our work will be shown for what it is. There too will come a day when our work will be exposed to fire and it's quality will be tested. A gospel built on prosperity will crumble when that prosperity does not come, or is taken away. A gospel built on the American dream will not survive in a third world country. A gospel in which everyone makes it into heaven will not endure God's sense of justice.
In first century Corinth and today, the gospel that must be laid on the foundation of Christ is that of Christ himself. He is the way the truth and the life, the one and only way to eternal life. He does not promise us prosperity, the American Dream, or a pain free life, quite the opposite in fact. But he does promise to love us, provide for us, and carry us through.
He is our foundation, our building materials, and the only one who can withstand the fire of judgment. He is our reward. And HE is the one we should follow.