The writers of the New Testament also metaphorically present the Church like a building with Christ as its foundation. If a building’s foundation is substandard, any type of construction put on it will be doomed. For instance, a wall might look good for a while, but eventually cracks start appearing, and patching those cracks is only a temporary fix. Other fissures open up, and the structure keeps settling out, becoming unsound and eventually falling in.
The first requirement of a genuinely Christian church is that it is established on Christ Himself; the second is that we build properly on that foundation.
Churches are made of people, which I Peter refers to as “living stones” (2:4). Because my father was a contractor, I know a little about construction, but where we worked, stone houses were rare. We did, however, use a lot of brick. One of my jobs when I was a kid was sorting used bricks that we used for additions that he built on people’s homes. Using new bricks looks peculiar when they butt up to an existing wall that’s been around a while, so the used bricks were ideal for this application.
My main tasks when sorting these bricks was stacking the good ones on wheelbarrows to supply the bricklayers and tossing unsuitable bricks on a truck, so they could be taken to the dump. The bricks that went in the wheelbarrow were not all identical; some were light and some were dark, some were rough and some were smooth, and some were even a bit irregular in shape. These variations didn’t matter, and the walls these bricks became part of were always beautiful.
The bricks that didn’t make it to tradesmen on the scaffolds were what my father referred to as “salmon brick.” Flaky and brittle, they looked much like the others, but they would fall apart, eventually leaving unsightly holes in the wall and threatening the structural integrity of whatever was built.
In much the same way, the church can also use all kinds of very used people, but what it doesn’t need are people who lack an essential spiritual soundness that allows them to be an integral part of His living temple. Of course, we must be patient with new believers and others who are immature, but the ones who detract from the beauty of His temple must be discipled so they may become contributors to His purposes. In all, an atmosphere of grace, but never permissiveness, must be cultivated.