I was a pre-schooler and was playing checkers with my Mom in the living room of our house on East Main street in Butler. It was evening and was getting dark outside. All of a sudden our whole house shook and there was a tremendous roar. We ran to the front door and saw that a semi driver had fallen asleep and drove his big rig into the house across the street, knocking the entire house off its foundation.
The whole neighborhood turned out to help rescue the occupants, an older couple named McKee, who were, fortunately, not harmed. That was big excitement for the sleepy town of Butler. And it pulled the community together. Crisis has a way of getting people to work together with compassion for another.
I don’t want to say we need more crises, but God will do whatever it takes to get us to work together. Who do you know who’s in trouble?
Tags: rescue, trouble, unity
The Apostle Paul summarized all that he had just said about the body of Christ in verse 27: “Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Corinthians 12). Here he is applying all that he had just said about the body of Christ in general, and makes it personal to the readers: that is, to you and me.
In the original Greek the word you is plural. We are all together the body of Christ when we function as God has called us. We are His hands and feet. We are the ones carrying out the direction of the head, Jesus Christ. The will of God doesn’t get done unless we do it. We no more act on our own behalf, but we act on God’s behalf.
But then he adds, “and members in particular“. So, the body of Christ is comprised of us all with all our various gifts. But each of us as individuals are essential in making up the whole. Each piece adds to the whole. The body is not whole without all the pieces.
The church of Christ has weakened itself by dividing into ever smaller and predictable groups. What would happen if the whole church, all the parts and all the denominations, saw each other as vital parts of the body? I think we would seek each other out a little more.
Tags: body, church, spiritual gifts, unity
Paul has been discussing spiritual gifts in light of the body of Christ (local church). He has just said that it is important that the stronger parts of the body strengthen the weaker so that the whole body be stronger and healthier.
“That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another” (1 Corinthians 12:25). ‘Schism’ means division. Paul is saying that if we don’t have equal care for all parts of the body, the church will naturally divide between the haves and the have-nots. This is not acceptable. If our goal was to make everyone equal we would never look down upon anyone and exclude them. Oh, if the individual members of the body of Christ would get a hold of this principle!
How do we give “the same care one for another”? We do so by intentionally looking out for our weaker brothers and sisters. This is what Barnabas did for Paul in his early years when the apostles were afraid of him (Acts 9:26-27). We should all strive diligently to make sure there is no class structure at New Hope. We value everyone and help them grow. We don’t pay special attention to the rich people when they come dressed up, nor do we ignore the worldly person when they come with tattoos and piercings and wild clothing styles. Each of them is seeking spiritual truth.
Let’s work hard to identify the parts of the body that need greater care and make them feel connected. That’s honoring them.
Tags: church, division, spiritual gifts, unity
“And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet one body” (1 Corinthians 12:19-20). Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, we can return to our study of spiritual gifts. Paul is connecting logic to this teaching about spiritual things that are not logical. If each one in the body were all alike, there would be no body where parts work together. But, as anyone can see in reality, the church is one body with many members that should be functioning together.
He is referring back to his main point back in verse 12: “For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.”
Herein is a paradox: we are many individuals and yet we are one body. Only through the Spirit of God can these many individual gifts function together like a football team on the field, achieving a common goal. So the rich work together with the poor, the educated with the uneducated, the white with the black, and the old with the young. We’re all one body!
The greater the diversity, the more powerful the unity. This is the working of spiritual gifts in its greatest potential. Let’s stop trying to get everyone to be more uniform, and permit everyone to following their own diversity in unity. And let’s win the game for Jesus!
Tags: church, spiritual gifts, unity
In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul is teaching about spiritual gifts. He has not wandered off that topic as he explains how we function together as a body, because spiritual gifts are to function through the various parts of the body to the body. He next illustrates this point further: “If the foot shall say, ‘Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body’; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, ‘Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body’; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?” (1 Corinthians 12:15-17).
Unity is getting the toe to agree with the ear, not converting everyone over to being toes or ears. Each part of the body has a legitimate gift and a legitimate purpose. The hard part in the church is getting independent minded people to recognize our need of each other in the body. Here at New Hope, we’re likely never going to be as good at winning traditional people over as some other churches, because we have decided to target young adults in everything we do, and they hate tradition. So, we value other churches and the members of the body that serve there.
The toe has a specific purpose in the body: to help stabilize balance when we walk. The ear has a distinctly different purpose in the body: to channel auditory senses to our brain. There is no connection between the two different parts, but we need both and wouldn’t be the same is we lost either. They are both valued parts of the body. So it is with the different types of people doing different kinds of ministry in the local church. And we must value each part, no matter how lowly they may appear.
Notice Paul’s approach here is not to exclude others from the body, but when one excludes him/herself from the body because they are not quite like the others. Do you judge yourself less than your brothers and sisters? Could it be Satan has deceived you into thinking you don’t have anything to offer the body of Christ? Don’t be deceived and miss your invitation. Like the toe, you have a vital role to play in God’s economy.
Tags: church, spiritual gifts, unity
1 Corinthians 12:13: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit“. The church is made up of all types of people with all types of religious backgrounds. Some were raised by highly dysfunctional parents and some of us had highly responsible parents. Some of us made wise choices for our lives early on, but others of us made some grave mistakes in judgment early on. In our church we have those that are highly educated, and we have those yet to attain a GED. We have ex-cons in our midst. Some are well-to-do, and some are struggling financially. Men and women. Old and young. Republicans and Democrats.
With all these differences, we all still have the very same relationship with God, through His Son, Jesus, and revealed to us through His Spirit. The ground is level at the cross. We are all sinners and find relationship with God in the same manner. We make up the body of Christ. We each bring different gifts into the mix.
As we drink deeply of His Spirit, He reveals different things to different people, because of our own personal perspective based on our past and present understanding. So, we teach each other. This is the church in action.
When you step into the church this weekend, look around you. There is so much diversity. There is so much someone else has learned that you haven’t been through. Let’s embrace that diversity and value it. Let’s not make our life the standard for everyone else.
Its like Thanksgiving dinner. We provide the meat drinks and location, but everyone brings something to the table that we all share in. That’s family! And ooh, its so good.
Tags: church, spiritual gifts, unity
A family of four drove to the shopping mall to do some Christmas shopping. They decided to shop separately so that the presents they purchased for each other might be kept a secret. Before they split up, the father said, “Let’s synchronize our watches and agree to meet in the parking lot at five o’clock sharp.”
The four adjusted their respective watches. Then the mother turned to the father, and with hand outstretched said, “OK. Now let’s all synchronize our wallets!”
It helps to get on the same page whenever we’re working on a common goal. All the various church denominations would end all their fussing if we all synchronized our spiritual lives to God’s word.
Tags: Christmas, humor, unity