Inscription: Writing God’s Words on Our Hearts & Minds
Part 74: Keys to Unity – Fully Functioning Body
1 Corinthians 12:12-30
May 6, 2012
Scripture reading: 1 Cor. 12:12-13
Customers in church
This week at Starbucks, I had an experience that bugged me:
It started a couple of weeks ago, a lady come through drive thru who ordered a decaf, grande, long shot, non-fat, no foam, extra hot, latte. I told her that we couldn’t do long shots.
What’s a long shot? It means we tell the machine to let the shots take longer than usual, and I had been told that our machine couldn’t do that.
My manager broke in over the head set and said that we could. So we did and I apologized for the confusion. This isn’t the part that bothered me.
Apparently just having been told no, though followed by a yes, really upset her and she complained higher up the line and threatened not to come back to our store, so they did some butt kissing and all that. That’s not what bothered me.
Last week she came through and ordered the same drink, which we made, and my boss made a point of talking to her and apologizing again for the confusion and thanking her for coming back. None of that bothered me.
* What bothered me was the Bible in her front seat both times; she was on her way to a Bible study when she raised this fit.
As a customer, she had the right to raise a stink about whatever she wants, we have built it into American consumerism. But I wish a Christian would just be a little more chill about it.
* If I am honest, I have been just as bad at times (Haggen).
What concerns me more is when this same “the customer is always right” mind-set comes into the church. We pay for it through our tithes, and expect service.
* If we don’t get what we want, we believe we have the right to get mad, complain, and take our business elsewhere.
To make it worse, the internet age has made it so easy to go sample from pastors around the country. I read one powerful post about “preaching pornography.”
Porn allows you to have an idealized relationships with a fake person – they are always are hot, never look like they just woke up, never have PMS, never tell you “no,” and are always there.
* The downside is that you never get deep, genuine relationship with them.
Similarly, the author said, the wide availability of podcasts allows Christians to listen to other pastors, and they become your fantasy pastor, but it isn’t real.
I am not saying that you shouldn’t listen to podcast, they can be very helpful, so long as you don’t fantasize about them being your pastor.
And I didn’t say all that to whine about “the competition” or about consumers, but because I want to set up what I love about this church – how really real we are.
I am not the cool metro-sexual pastor preaching from my iPad backed up with great PowerPoint presentations. Last week Micah told me I spent the entire sermon with collar all twisted difference ways. That stuff will happen.
* We are not a slick church.
We are a community of people trying to be a healthy body working together, even with our failings. If a volunteer forgets something, it won’t get done; things fall through the cracks.
* And I love it; I love the messiness of this church.
I am not saying being professional is a bad thing; His Place does everything well and takes a proper pride in it. But they’re a church with 15x our budget and staff, so they can do that.
* We can’t – we’re led by a part-time pastor, a volunteer worship pastor and advisory team, and a bunch of volunteers.
How to get better
And I am not saying we shouldn’t try to get our act together. I really don’t like it when things fall through the cracks, and I don’t want there to be gaping holes in our ministry.
But my ideal solution isn’t for us to win the church lottery and suddenly have lots of money to hire a staff to do everything.
* My dream for this church is for us to be a fully functioning body where each of us do our part.
My greatest pride in this church doesn’t come from a Sunday service that is really cool – great worship, great greeting, great sermon, even though those are great.
My greatest pride last Sunday came from Rachelle serving with her gifts and doing it well, making worship great. It came from watching two ladies in the church caring for another lady.
* I love this church because it is a real community of people growing and serving each other.
This is why I love the messiness – because it means we are real at this stage and will continue to be real in the next stage.
Nourished, not fed
Q Do you get the picture I am trying to paint?
The church is not something you go to in order to get fed and served; you go to a restaurant to be served and fed.
* But your hand does not come to the body to get fed and served; it is a part of the body and hence gets nourished.
It is my passion to see everyone of us being part of the body and that was Paul’s passion for the church in Corinth as well.
A Disunified Body
This is our last week looking at unity from 1 Corinthians. As you may remember, with all of the dysfunction of the Corinthian church, Paul spent most of his time hammering on unity, because a healthy body can work together to fight off sickness.
Q Have you ever noticed how we tend to only pay attention to the things we value?
I value order, so to mean cleaning the kitchen means getting everything in order. Marilyn values things actually being clean.
The same thing happens in a church – an entire church can value one thing and that one thing may even be a really good thing, but then they ignore everything else.
* A church can value good doctrine, then ignore good deeds.
* A church can value the gifts of the Spirit but ignore order.
* A church can value community, but ignore outreach.
In Corinth the big thing was speaking on tongues. So if you walked into a church service there, all you would hear is one person speaking in tongues, who would be shouted down by someone else doing the same.
* All the while, those who did not speak in tongues were feeling like second class citizens.
What Paul need them to understand that unity and diversity are not opposites. Healthy unity does not come from everyone being the same, but being unified in their difference.
* EG: Dino-Squad.
To explain this, Paul crafts the analogy of the church as a body. To our knowledge, this is the first time the church is ever compared to a body. This is where we get the figure of speech of the church as a body.
1 Corinthians 12:14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.
Paul goes on to show two ways the church in Corinth was being quite un-body like, things that sound a little too familiar:
1. Feeling useless
1 Corinthians 12:15-18 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.
Growing up in the Pentecostal church, I always felt a bit like a second class citizen because I was intellectually driven. I listed to many different pastors either down play or openly mock intellectualism.
* It took years for me to learn that there wasn’t anything wrong with me.
Of course, many people who are more emotionally based have received the same treatment in other churches.
Q Have you ever felt like you don’t have a part to play in the church?
Maybe you feel like your gifts and abilities aren’t spiritual enough.
Maybe you feel like you don’t know enough, or haven’t been a Christian long enough.
But everyone has a part to play; everyone has something to offer in the church. And I have watched the way God works and how he organizes things, and I believe that he is working behind the scenes to give all of us a part to play in this body.
There are times that we are unable to serve, and then the body serves you, but otherwise we are all supposed to be working, like when you sprain your ankle.
2. Feelings of self-sufficiency
On the other side, some people have no problem thinking they have something to offer. Their problem is understanding just how much they need everyone else.
1 Corinthians 12:21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”
Needing each other
The longer I live, the more I realize how little I can do well. This week I have really been looking at how I am wired and what I can and cannot do. I am seeing just how weird I am.
I have taken the “Meyer Briggs” personality test and I am a “ENTJ,” which probably doesn’t mean a lot to you, but among other things it means that I am good at objectively look at data and trends and charting short and long term goals, but:
ENTJs appear to take a tough approach to emotional or personal issues, and so can be viewed as aloof and insensitive. In situations requiring feeling and value judgments, ENTJs are well served to seek the advice of a trusted Feeling type.1
Notice that “well served” part. Marilyn is more of a feeler, so is Micah. Without them, I do come across as insensitive.
* The point of that is how much we all need each other.
An unexpected repercussion of being bi-vocational is I’ve cut down what I do. I preach, organize the leadership team and that is about it. If someone else doesn’t do it, it won’t get done.
* Marriage RX.
This is actually a good thing. As I said, I hate seeing things fall through the cracks, but I love that is it forcing many of you to take ownership of significant ministries.
* I have always believed this, but now we are being forced to live it out.
Pulling it together
1 Corinthians 12:27-30 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
This is kind of funny to me – Paul is saying, “In case you missed the entire point everything I just said and thought I was just giving an anatomy lesson, I am talking about you.”
28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?
This list is not exhaustive, Paul has three difference lists and even those don’t cover everything.
I have a passion to see us all serving in our roles; contrary to popular perception, good preaching is not the mark of a healthy church. That means we have a good mouth. Good worship (the heart, in many ways) is not it.
* There is no single key to a healthy church; it is all of us working together, serving each other according to our gifts.
Equipping for Unity
Our job as leadership is not to serve you by doing everything, but by equipping you to serve as you are designed:
Ephesians 4:11-13 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Notice that the works of service bring us to unity, as we are each doing our part, and leaning on others who doing their parts, there is greater unity.
Understanding our interdependence helps with unity as we understand how much we even need the people we really have a hard time with.
For that reason, I want to end looking at who you are and your part of the body. As you may have guessed, I am very introspective; I love to take tests and figure out how I work.
* One of the most valuable ones I have done was “Strength Finders;” It was also very to Marilyn and Heather Baker. 2
I can’t take us all through that, but I can ask some basic questions and give you some time to answer them. My goal is to help you understand your own passions and strengths.
Q What do I enjoy doing?
Q What do I think I am good at?
Q What do others say I am good at? (bring out in CG’s)
Q What gaps do I notice most at church?
Now take a look at that: Do you feel like you are doing what you were designed to do?
If not, do you want help doing so? Write that down on the communication card.
Q & A