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January 2012

Love Builds the Church

For the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany

From “Sitting on the Rainbow”

Carpenter's tools brought from Holland by Bill Kloosterman in 1951.

Image from Half a World Away exhibit

Scripture Reference: 1 Cor. 8:1-3

Preparation: You may bring a hammer and nails or some other construction tools.

The Bible reading from 1 Corinthians today talks about building up the church. If you were going to help build up the church, what sort of tools do you think you might need? (Discuss.) I brought some tools with me (show the tools), but the trouble is, I’m not sure I know enough about how to use these tools to build. And I’m not sure I know enough about other things either—about the church, about the people in church, and about God. I may not know enough to build up the church.

I’d like you to raise your hand if you think you know a lot. Raise your hand if you think you have lots of knowledge and could answer lots of questions about the church and about God. (Let children participate.) Now who thinks your parents know even more than you do? Raise your hand if you think your parents know more about these things than you do.

Okay, now I have a question to ask you. Do you think it is the people who know the most that can really build up the church? Are they the ones that make the church strong and healthy? (Let children answer.) Listen to how the Bible answers that question.

First Corinthians 8:1-3 says, “While knowledge may make us feel important, it is love that really builds up the church. Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much. But the person who loves God is the one God knows and cares for” (NLT). It isn’t the people who know a lot that build up the church, is it? What really builds up the church? (Let children answer.) Love builds up the church. The church is really the people who make up the family of God. The building isn’t as important as the people, is it?

And it turns out that knowing a lot isn’t as important as loving a lot. Being smart may make us feel important, but loving others and being helpful with your words and actions is really what makes the church grow strong. Love makes God’s family stronger, and love also brings more people into God’s family.

It looks like I won’t be needing these tools. I think all of you are plenty skilled enough to build up this church. All of you know how to show love for each other, so let’s get to work. On your way back to your places this morning, I want you to help build up the church by showing two other people that you care about them. You could give them a smile, a hug, or a handshake, or just tell them that you love them.

Loving God, help make us good workers in your church by teaching us how to build up the family of God with love.


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