I used to take a lot of photos with an old and heavy Nikkormat 35 millimeter camera. It was a fine camera but, before every shot, I had to fiddle with the f-stop and the shutter speed. I’d be sure to get those settings right. I framed the shot right and did just about everything else right. Even so, if the focus was wrong, then the entire photograph was trashed. But if I focused right, then the photo turned out pretty well. It’s like that in the local church.
We want the results that come with right focus. The Lord used Paul to reset a few focus points for the church in 1 Corinthians 3: 4-15. And the Lord used Peter to help believers focus on the truth of their identity and purpose. The focus of FiveStone Churches comes from their words:
1. Jesus Christ is the foundation of the church (1 Corinthians 3:11);
2. church leaders are His workers (1 Corinthians 3:9);
3. disciples of Christ are His building (1 Corinthians 3:9);
4. build on the foundation with precious stones (1 Corinthians 3:12);
5. build disciples of Christ (1 Peter 2:5).
Strong believers and strong churches stand like solid buildings. They’re built on the foundation rock of Jesus Christ. They’re built on relationship with Him and commitments to His word, His ways and His expectations. I’m thankful for the words of Christ to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3. The Lord commends doctrinal purity, hard work, faithfulness, endurance, perseverance and service. The Lord won’t long tolerate false doctrine, pride, complacency and apathy. (It’s encouraging to note that His review of the seven churches includes no hint of the number of people in each local church. A small church can be a great church.)
So we are to build on the foundation of Christ. But who does the construction? Leaders who understand that they’re nothing but servants in the Lord’s work. Paul rebuked the Corinthians because they focused on big personalities. The Corinthians created factions that, if left to grow, would have fractured the church. It’s not about a Paul and it’s not about an Apollos. They’re just servants used by the Lord to build disciples, who are God’s building, as Paul put it.
And with what do you build? You build with stones that are precious in the Lord’s eyes. He has an economy of values. The stones He values may not be very precious in the world’s economy. But they certainly are precious in His economy. And, of course, His opinion is the opinion that counts. Peter says the Lord is pleased when disciples are built into a holy, spiritual house, offering Him spiritual sacrifices.
The Lord wants His disciples constructed on a specific foundation in a certain way using specific materials. The specific materials are the five stones Jesus described in John 10:1-18. Integrity, Authenticity, Trust, Leadership and Service.