BROTHERS and SISTERS, we are God’s fellow workers, and you are God’s field, God’s building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid – and that foundation is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw – the work of each builder will become visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward. If the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss, but the builder will be saved, but only as through fire. Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy that person. For the temple of God is holy, and you are that temple.
Saint Paul is using here a building metaphor for our work in the Church. In order to erect a building, the foundation first has to be laid. Thankfully, the foundation has already been laid - it is Christ Himself. Jesus prepared the foundation and His apostles laid it with their initial preaching. The rest is built on that foundation.
From generation to generation we add to this building. Generation to generation becomes part of this building. This all makes sense. In order for us to have become Christians, followers of our Lord Jesus Christ, our ancestors had to build up and pass down the faith. Same thing with our ancestors - in order for them to become Christians, their ancestors had to build up and pass down. God willing, the generation after us will continue building up on the same foundation and passing down the faith.
This building up will continue until the Day, that is the Great Day when God will visit His people - the Second Coming. All those who participated in building up the Church will then receive a reward. Each according to how they participated, "the work of each builder will become visible."
The reward will not be material. It will not even be about just going to heaven. The reward will be our knowledge and closeness to God in His Kingdom. While participating in building up the Church now, we acquire a more deeper knowledge of God; so in His Kingdom, this acquiring of understanding will continue. We never arrive at the full knowledge of God because He is infinite. In the Kingdom we continue what we started here - growing in His love and knowledge.
Therefore, participation in building up the Church of Christ gives us an opportunity to build something that will last forever.
Yours in the Lord,