August 05, 2020 Marc Sims

The Body of Christ (pt. 2)

The Body of Christ (pt. 2)

Sermon Video Here: https://www.facebook.com/QuinaultBC/videos/756473018501119/?vh=e&extid=akMAm8Mc7Hgb8E9i


Sermon Manuscript:

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. – 1 Cor 12:12-27


How do you build “community”? Our church’s mission statement is “building a covenant community who worships Christ above all.” But, let’s say you just want a community, ready-made, pop in the microwave and *boom* its done—what do you do? Well, the world teaches us that we can build a community around three things:

1.     Attract people with something entertaining or appealing

a.     Football, book club, wine tasting, etc. “You like this too? So do I!”

2.     Call people to action to some noble cause

a.     Activists, PTA, politics, etc. “This mission is so important that you must join with me…”

3.     Invite people with shared problems for a group of mutual dependence

a.     A.A., support groups, mom Facebook groups, etc. “We all are struggling through the same problems together…”


If you can hit any one of those three, you can create some kind of community together. But here is what this depends one:

1.     You find other people who are like you, who have the same interests as you, the same personality as you, care about the same things, etc.

2.     The commitment of each individual, which is largely dependent on their own comfort.


Is this the kind of community that the gospel creates? Why do all these Christians around the world gather together into these communities called churches—even in circumstances that can make it inconvenient, uncomfortable, even dangerous to do so? Is it because we have created a community like we have seen above? Well, yes and no.


We are attracted by the good news of the gospel and the glory and splendor of our God. God is the most interesting, beautiful, and pure being in the universe and He has the best possible news for mankind. Jesus Christ loves sinners.


If you thought you could earn, demand, and fight your way through life on the basis of your own entitlements and cleverness, but now you find within yourself not light but darkness and denial, not freedom but impasse; if you have shocked yourself with the evil you’re capable of and have given up on yourself in despair, the God of love waits for you with open arms today. – Ray Ortlund. How could you not be attracted to that?


We are given the most noble mission and cause on the planet: go forth and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them all that Jesus has commanded. Further, we are now called to live a life of holiness, a life that we were originally intended for as image bearers of God. 


And, lastly, we all are far too weak, far too prone to not follow through, far too sinful to try and do this life alone, so we need the support, love, and encouragement of one another.


Attraction, mission, and support. That is a great recipe for a meaningful community. But, here is where the community that the gospel makes is different than the community that the world makes: the community that the world makes relies (1) finding other people who are like you and, (2) the commitment to it is largely decided by the individual. The gospel, on the other hand, creates a community that (1) draws in people from all walks of life, all kinds of personalities, all kinds of cultures, all kinds of nationalities—not just other people who are like you. And (2) the gospel creates a community that calls people to a commitment that is not determined by their comfort level, but by the calling that God has placed on them. It is a calling-based commitment, not a comfort-based commitment.


Unity


For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. – 1 Cor 12:12-13


This is the passage we considered last week. This passage shows us that when someone becomes a Christian they are not only reconciled to God, but they are then placed in God’s family, the Church, the body of Christ. Last week we looked at what happened when we believed the gospel: (1) we have our sins forgiven and receive the Holy Spirit, (2) we are baptized, and (3) we become a member of a local church. This is what is assumed is what happens to every Christian in the New Testament. It is within the local church that we find the arena to obey so many of the commands of the New Testament. The “one another” commands in the Bible (love one another, pray for one another, be patient with one another, forgive one another…) are not meant to be exercised to some faceless mass of humanity in general, but to real, actual people. It costs nothing to say, “I love my city.” But when you love people in particular, then you are required to actually put that love into practice. In Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamozov, he warns about how easy it is to slip into this fantasy of imagining that you love humanity in general, but cannot love actualpersons:


“I love humanity…but…the more I love humanity in general, the less I love man in particular. In my dreams…I have often come to making enthusiastic schemes for the service of humanity…yet I am incapable of living in the same room with anyone for two days together…As soon as anyone is near me, his personality disturbs my self-complacency and restricts my freedom. In twenty-four hours I begin to hate the best of men; one because he’s too long over his dinner; another because he has a cold and keeps on blowing his nose.” – Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamozov 


The local church is intended to be the ecosystem in where the commands of love are to be primarily practiced by Christians. We don’t love a theoretical group of people; loving hypothetical people doesn’t require me to change, to bear any one’s burden, to ask for forgiveness. But real, living, breathing people who step on my toes and ask things of me that make me uncomfortable—those are the people I am called to love. 


Diversity


14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.


The unity of the body does not come at the expense of its diversity. The gospel is just too good, God is too glorious, and the danger of hell too serious for us to only welcome other people in who are like us. God commands all people everywhere to repent and believe in the gospel (Acts 17:30), and because belief in the gospel entails becoming a member of that gospel community, the church, this means that churches will be full of a diverse group of people. This is where Paul’s metaphor of the body reveals itself to be so brilliant—each body part is wildly different. A foot is nothing like a eye. Yet, both are vital, integral parts of the same body and share the collective identity of “body.” 


The diversity that Paul is referring to here is primarily a diversity of spiritual gifts (see 1 Cor 12:1-11; 27-31). God has given supernaturally empowered gifts to His people upon their reception of the Holy Spirit, and each of those gifts is very different. For some, it is the gift of teaching, for others it is the gift of administration, for others it is the gift of encouragement. But, since Paul just mentioned right before this that in the body there is Jew and Greek, slave and free (vs. 13), he also is likely thinking about the diversity in ethnicity, culture, and socioeconomic class. The body is diverse! And no one is permitted to count themselves unworthy of belonging in the body because they are different. Each member’s own estimation of their usefulness is not the grounds upon which they are a part of the body. Rather, their inclusion in the body is based on the fact that God has made them a part of the body—He has divinely ordained that they be there, with their unique personality, gifting, culture, and status.


What does this mean?


·      Our body should be diverse

o   Pray that our church would reflect our community.

·      Your being here is not an accident—God put you here.

o   Guard your heart against the temptation of thinking that you don’t deserve to be a part of this church because you don’t look like someone else.

·      You are needed

o   21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,  - 1 Cor 12:21-22

o   The previous verses warned of someone deeming themselves to be unworthy. This verse warns against one member looking down on another. 

o   But, if the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” then that means that the eye needs the hand. Which means each member is absolutely needed. Put another way, your participation in the life of the church is not, in God’s eyes, optional. If my hand decides to stop cooperating with the body, the whole body suffers. Worse, if my hand decides to sever itself from the body, the whole body will suffer tremendously and will be incapable of fulfilling all of the required tasks—and the hand will soon begin to die.

o   So, what is the verse teaching us? It is assuming that each Christian is meaningfully attached to one another in the body of Christ, the church. This is why our church practices “membership.” Church membership is a way that we are trying to obey what Paul is teaching here about being committed to one another. Most Christians today treat their relationship with church on a comfort-based calling; they attend, participate, and engage to the degree that they feel like it. Similar to how someone might treat a football team, or a fan club. But the church, in the Bible, is described as a family. Which means that we are committed to one another and our commitment doesn’t flow out of our shared interests, but out of our identity as a family. 

o   And this family, bound together by God’s covenant, has been divinely brought together, each member with a specific role, a specific task. 

o   So, friend, you are needed. This is your church and God has brought you here for a reason. Why not begin to pray: God, how might you use me here? What role might I play? 

§  Serving in the nursery

§  Helping set up for Sundays

§  Calling our members who are unable to gather and encourage them

§  Invite new faces over for lunch after church

§  Participating in a small group to help encourage others in their faith

§  Turn that savings account into a gift to help another member who is struggling to make ends meet


The gospel is too glorious, the mission too great, and our need too dire for us to do this alone. So let’s link arms with one another, and walk forward in unity.