Sermon: September 25th 2015
Sermon Title: Body by God
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:14-26
Good morning, I want to begin this morning by showing you a TV commercial. Usually I try and skip through commercials, but now and then you come across one that is witty, informative (imagine that) or profound. All with the goal, of course, to sell us more stuff. The one I want to show you I believe falls into the profound category.
I would also like you to watch it in light of our sermon series, with this thought in mind – what shown here relates to the church?
A piano has 88 keys. Each one is different. But what if they were all the same? To find out, they took apart a piano and reengineered it so that it only plays one note: Middle C. Be together. NotTheSame
Alright, how can this relate to the church?
What if we swapped out Paul’s illustration of the church as body to a piano?
1 Corinthians 12:12-13: For just as a piano is one and has many keys, and all the keys of the piano, though many, are one piano, so it is with Christ.
Diversity in unity, not uniformity. Not all the same, but together…one.
This idea of oneness is big deal in the scriptures, is it not? For example, looks at a similar passage in Ephesians:
There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. - Ephesians 4:4-6 (ESV)
That’s one seven times: one, one, one, one, one, one, one…
Do we see ourselves as one with God and see as God is one? What a great Trinitarian passage. One God in a loving community of three (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Question, whose image are we created in? God, right! Should it surprise us that God’s loving community would image him, as one…one body – the body of his Son.
When it comes to Christ’s Church…it’s all in. All as One.
1 Corinthians 12:12-26
vs. 14 - For the body does not consist of one member but of many.
Anyone have to read any Shakespeare in High School? Anyone have to read the Merchant of Venice? Does anyone remember what the character of Shylock, the money lender, asks of Antonio, another character, who is unable to repay his bond? That’s right, one pound of flesh.
Imagine yourself in his situation mulling over which part of your body to sacrifice. Actually I found it rather easy, I have plenty of pounds I’m willing to donate. Seriously though, the situation is as absurd as it is horrifying; there is no sacrifice at that cost which will not end in death.
We should see the body of Christ as no different, because God does not. For God, as it should be for us, parting with any member of the body should be unthinkable. But I don’t think it’s always thought of that way.
Can you imagine a situation where people have mulled over which member of the body of Christ remove? I can, it happens all the time; I’ve been that member some happily mulled over removing.
These verses here, written in response to the division within the church in Corinth over spiritual gifts and perhaps even social class, reveal to us the unity in which God has established His church. And to be honest, Paul’s illustration is hilarious. It is! Paul shows the divisions in the body of Christ to be just as absurd of the members of your physical body were to have an all our war with one another.
As I see it, he does so from two different perspectives…one from a place of insecurity and another from egotism. And in the midst of the two reveals the one true perspective of how we are one body and not one monstrosity.
I’ve never really thought of my foot as being insecure to my hand. To me they’re both pretty essential in most everything I do. But I see Paul’s point, as someone who struggles with insecurity, I have seen myself as lesser within the church body.
If only I were more like him, or her…but since I am not…fade into the shadows…
We as a church belong to a pretty incredible association. I have the privilege of being in the company quite regularly of some very intelligent, talented and godly men. When I was asked to preside as area pastor for the churches here in our region, my thought was…you’ve got to kidding. You expect me to minster to this gentleman over here with so much more education than myself, and this gentleman here with so much more experience than myself, and what’s more, you expect them to go along with it. Funny thing, they did. It was very humbling and honoring at the same time.
I have the same insecurities in our body here, perhaps you do as well? Well guess what, God’s answer to me is His same to you, get over it. Get over yourself. The foot’s insecurity to the hand or the ear to the eye do not make it any less part of the body. As it is, all are essential, and so are you.
If you are in Christ, you have baptized into his body, you are part of the body - no ands, ifs, or butts (well actually butts are part of the body…let’s move on, shall we). Not only are you a part of the body, you are essential to the body, just as every instrument is essential to an orchestra.
Actually, I recently read of a conductor who was rehearsing his great orchestra. The organ was rolling, giving beautiful melody. The drums were thundering. The trumpets were blaring out. The violins were singing beautifully. Suddenly something seemed wrong. Someone in the orchestra had thought, with all this going on, I can rest a while. This is a rehearsal anyway.
The conductor threw up his arms and said, "Where's the piccolo?"
The piccolo player said, "I'm obscure. I don't amount to much. With all of this going on, I don't have to keep playing."
But the one with the trained ear said, "Every one of us is necessary." When you and I feel obscure, we must remember God has something significant for our lives, and we need to respond.
Speaking of God, who is conductor?
He is! That’s right. We’ll dwell on this more in just a few moments, but when you are checked out spiritually, physically, relationally, he knows…someone is missing. The melody not what it should be.
“But I’m not like…” Exactly! That’s precisely the point of verse 17. The body cannot be all eye, or all ear, it would just be gross. Talk about insecurity, see that eye over there? Yeah? I think it’s looking me. That’s what happens when we think, everyone in the church would be better with more, insert name, not me.
I also believe we tend to hide behind this insecurity. ‘I’m not spiritual enough (what does that mean),’ ‘my life is not at a place morally where I think I should be…,’ ‘I don’t know much of the bible,’ or ‘how to pray?’ etc., etc., are not merely insecurity, they’re excuses. We hide behind our insecurities which makes us more selfish than insecure.
Salvation is instantaneous. Sanctification, i.e. - maturing in Christ – is a process of growth. If I saw any of you yell at a baby for not being able to run as fast as one of their much older siblings, I’d think you needed some time always in quiet padded room. We are grow and need time and an environment and those to come along side us to do that. But, our insecurities, cough – excuses – are halting our growth because we don’t want to. We don’t want to give up our time, our ways, our sins…
Rick Warren in The Purpose Driven Life says this about ‘these excuses’ and how they cannot serve the body.
Abraham was old, Jacob was insecure, Leah was unattractive, Joseph was abused, Moses stuttered, Gideon was poor, Samson was codependent, Rahab was immoral, David had an affair and all kinds of family problems, Elijah was suicidal, Jeremiah was depressed, Jonah was reluctant, Naomi was a widow, John the Baptist was eccentric to say the least, Peter was impulsive and hot-tempered, Martha worried a lot, the Samaritan woman had several failed marriages, Zacchaeus was unpopular, Thomas had doubts, Paul had poor health, and Timothy was timid. That is quite a variety of misfits, but God used each of them in his service. He will use you too if you stop making excuses.
Besides, these excuses will not get us very far because of who we make these excuses too? Whose body are we apart of again?
Who has arranged the body as HE chose? God. How far are your excuses going to get with him. Lean into this truth, God has placed you within his body, on purpose, for a purpose because it brought him pleasure to do so. In this recipe he said, “I need a pinch of _______ and a splash of _______”. And it was.
The phrase here that stuck out for me was, AS IT IS. Not as it will be, or should be, but when it comes to you in the body, it is as it is! If you’ve responded to his love and lordship in grace to save you from sin and be renewed, you’re in. You won’t be in once you start doing this, or that, you’re in!! Don’t you hate it when you sitting or lying in a weird position and your hand or your foot falls asleep? Isn’t a sleeping limb the strangest uncomfortable sensation, it feels as if your hand or foot is on a different agenda than the rest of your body. Has it ceased to be a part of the body? Ever taken it to the clinic and asked Kristie to amputate? No.
This is why it is said: "Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." - Ephesians 5:14
It is God who chooses and has chosen…let us trust him concerning you…
This is why there should be no insecurity in this light or excuses…nor should there be egotism.
The issue in Corinth is that many saw themselves as greater than other because they had higher social class (For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.) or had more charismatic gifts.
This has no place in the body of Christ. Just as Middle C is the go to key on a piano, we just heard that all tuned to Middle C is not beautiful at all, but loud and boring.
The church has no place for egotism, and is susceptible to this in what are seen as greater gifts, which they are not, but more upfront than behind the scenes. It is easy for pastor, or a teacher, or a worship leader, or evangelist, to see themselves as the show. They’re not.
The only one who is superior is Christ, the head of the body, and how does he use that superiority, he serves us and tells us to do the same to one another.
In fact, the seemingly greater, personalities or gifts, are to care, honor and protect the seemingly weaker.
What is the criteria for what is weak in strong? In one’s physical body, obviously the hand is stronger (durable) than the heart. If you were to accidently step on my hand, I would say, ouch. If you were to accidently step on my heart, physically, not metaphorically, I would say, hello St. Peter. So in these terms, one appears greater. But can anyone deny the importance of the heart? The lungs? The kidneys? They might not be as upfront and center, but they are vital. In the same way Paul talk about areas of the body that seemingly we’re ashamed of, because we keep them covered. Our sexual anatomy should not be on display for everyone to see, regardless of what our culture thinks. But even if these areas are kept covered, it is not because we’re ashamed of them, but because they are protected and valued in such a way that they are too important for every bystander to gaze upon. N.T. Wright gives the illustration of Emperor, who remains hidden most often in a castle. He is far too important to walk among the common class, he’s far too susceptible. Only at certain protected and honored times does he make an appearance.
Remember (this is very important) Paul is using metaphor, we are not divvy up the church body to figure out who should be out in the open and who should be covered (Derek, you’re a kidney – go in the other room).
His point, the seemingly strong are to care for the seemingly weak, seemingly because none are stronger or weaker, all are equal, but at certain times where one is weak, another is strong to care and protect, and when they are weak, the other is to rise up and do the same.
So it is with the body… We see this with individuals in 1 Corinthians 8 with the stronger and weaker brother.
We are to be so one, that when one suffers, we suffer together. In such away in the early church if one fell on hard times, financially, for example, the others would suffer in their own finances, to bless the one without. All pockets would be emptier, but all hearts would be fuller.
We should lament with our brothers and sisters around the world suffering persecution and hardship.
We should rejoice, not envy, when a brother and sister has reason to rejoice.
But do we see one another like this…as one?
Stephen Mansfield tells a true story about a church that had an incredible ministry to men. For years the driving force behind the men's ministry was a man named Taylor. His ministry rocked on for years, changing lives and impacting the community. But in the midst of a major transition within the church, Taylor got hurt deeply by his own community and he left the church. He wouldn't talk to anybody. People figured he'd come back eventually, but he didn't.
Finally, some of the men in the church took it upon themselves to reach out to Brother Taylor. After some discussion with the other guys at church they came up with a bold plan: they would set up camp in Taylor's yard—150 men! So they set up rotating shifts and said they wouldn't leave until Taylor came out. They had electric lines running from neighboring houses to power televisions. About twenty smokers and grills worked up some great barbeque food. They were in for the long haul! They even had big signs all over the place: "Taylor, come out." "We love you." "Taylor, we know you're in there."
Taylor didn't appreciate it. He even called the police on his former friends. As a matter of fact, the police showed up twice a day for almost a week. And every time they came, Taylor would came to the door to explain the situation. And every time the men camping in his year would explode with cheers until Taylor finished his chat with the police and went back inside.
But on the sixth day, when Taylor opened the door for the police and the men exploded with cheers, Taylor finally broke down and started crying his eyes out. He sputtered how sorry he was, and then he came out from his porch and greeted the guys who had camped in his yard and refused to go away. Such is the power of committed, persistent friendship.
Why Love? I love my church because God chose me to.