Connections 02.12.2023: Partners with God

1 Corinthians 3:1-15

I grew up in First Baptist Church of Warm Springs, Georgia, a very small town with a huge amount of history. Church attendance swelled and waned through the years, as it does at most churches, but the core group of members remained faithful during my childhood and adolescence. The church’s longtime pastor arrived when I was nine years old and has recently celebrated his thirty-sixth anniversary as leader of the congregation.

A Bible verse ran across the bottom of our bulletins and graced other materials of the church: “For we are partners working together with God” (1 Cor 3:9a). Even as a child, I remember liking the idea behind those words—that we weren’t just a group of people coming together a couple times a week to attend Sunday school, sing hymns, and listen to sermons. We were actually partners in the great work of God, striving to live like Jesus in our community. I haven’t been an active part of that church for more than two decades, since I moved away for college and now live in a different city. But the church is still going strong in that little community, serving the people through various ministries: soccer, a food pantry, a scrapbooking club, “Empty Stocking” at Christmas, and more. And the pastor is still a visible presence not only behind the pulpit but throughout the small town. Everyone knows him and everyone likes him.

In today’s passage, Paul writes to the Corinthians about the ways they still need to mature as followers of Christ. They are arguing about their allegiances to various ministers of the gospel, but Paul urges them to a different understanding. “For we are God’s coworkers,” he says, “working together; you are God’s field, God’s building” (v. 9). His point is that, in light of God’s leadership, the people are all on the same level with himself and other ministers. God is the “master gardener,” he says. The rest of them, including the Corinthian believers, are God’s “plants,” working with God to show Jesus’s love to the world.

There’s no reason to argue over the ministers we like best. There’s no benefit in following this or that person to the exclusion of others. Our goal should be to follow God and to work together as partners in God’s mission.


• If you grew up in church, how would you characterize that congregation?
• Do you remember any arguments among church members? If so, how were they handled?
• What does it mean to you to know you’re a partner with God and with God’s people?
• What do you think you’re working toward as “God’s coworker”?
• How well is the work going, and what could you do better in this partnership?

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition to this work, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her teenage daughters, Samantha and Natalie, her husband John, and the family’s two dachshund mix pups, Luke and Leia. She likes supporting community theater productions and is often found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who. And she writes middle grade and young adult fiction for the pure joy of it.


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