Sharing Grace in the Body

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He wanted to conduct. His conducting style, however, was idiosyncratic. During soft passages he'd crouch extremely low. For loud sections, he'd often leap into the air, even shouting to the orchestra.
His memory was poor. Once he forgot that he had instructed the orchestra not to repeat a section of music. During the performance, when he went back to repeat that section, they went forward, so he stopped the piece, hollering, "Stop! Wrong! That will not do! Again! Again!"
For his own piano concerto, he tried conducting from the piano. At one point he jumped from the bench, bumping the candles off the piano. At another concert he knocked over a choir boy.
During one long, delicate passage, he jumped high to cue a loud entrance, but nothing happened because he had lost count and signaled the orchestra too soon.
As his hearing worsened, musicians tried to ignore his conducting and get their cues from the first violinist.
Finally the musicians pled with him to go home and give up conducting, which he did.
He was Ludwig van Beethoven.
As the man whom many consider to be the greatest composer of all time learned, no one is a genius of all trades.

Big Idea: You can have confidence in what God is doing in the Body. Care for one another and honor one another.

The Grace of Revelation

God gives us content.
1 Corinthians 12:3 ESV
3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.
You can’t lose your salvation but you can claim to no longer be one.
John 10:27–30 ESV
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

The Grace of Common Good

Not entertainment…not power.
The emphasis on the supernatural
1 Corinthians 12:7 ESV
7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
What is God empowering you to bring to the table?
Thanksgiving table
You need courage to not be passive.
You don’t grow out of this.
James 3:13–18 ESV
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

The Grace of Diversity

God gifts us with a variety of gifts.
Don’t look for people who are like you. Be a family.
God does not require that each individual shall have capacity for everything. Do no let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.
Do you sense needs in the body?
Don’t expect everyone else to sense the same needs.
Don’t discount what you sense. God gave you that sense so you could do something about it.
Max DePree had a young grandson who once locked himself in the bathroom. Nothing his mother did could get him out. She called the police, and they too were helpless. Next she tried the fire department, who came in full force with several trucks. They broke down the bathroom door with their axes. The boy's father got home when things were in an uproar. He could not figure out why, when there was no smoke or fire, his door and frame were in shambles. He was still grousing about it the next day to a friend, who passed on a sage observation. A fireman has two tools: an axe, and a hose. If you want someone to pick a lock with a paper clip, try a locksmith or a cat burglar. If you call a fireman, you're either going to get the axe or the hose.
John Ortberg, "People of the Book," Leadership journal (Winter 2008), p. 40

The Practice of Honor

We need every part.
Weaker- indispensable - Needs are there to be met or faith which seems weak is essential.
Less honor> Greater honor Suffering
Unpresentable > Modesty
Value - Teaching over power
Value - Character over charisma
Value - Faith over Control
If you see a large sailboat out on the water moving swiftly, it is because the sailor is honoring the boat's design. If she tries to take it into water too shallow for it, the boat will be ruined. The sailor experiences the freedom of speed sailing only when she limits her boat to the proper depth of water and faces the wind at the proper angle. In the same way, human beings thrive in certain environments and break down in others. Unless you honor the given limits of your physical nature, you will never know the freedom of health. Unless you honor the given limits of human relationships, you will never know the freedom of love and social peace. If you actually lived any way you wanted—never aligning your choices with these physical and social realities—you would quickly die, and die alone. You are, then, not free to do whatever you choose … You get the best freedoms only if you are willing to submit your choices to various realities, if you honor your own design. Source: Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical, (Viking 2016), page 103
When my two daughters, Hannah and Nancy, were about two- or three- years-old, I noticed how they imitated and reflected my wife and me. They cooked, fed, and disciplined their play animals and dolls just the way my wife cooked, fed, and disciplined them. They gave play medicine to their dolls just the way we fed them medicine. Our daughters also prayed with their stuffed animals and dolls the way we prayed with them. They talked on their toy telephone with the same kind of Texas accent that my wife uses when she talks on the phone … . Most people, I am sure, have seen this with children. But children only begin what we continue to do as adults. We imitate …. Most people can think back to junior high, high school, or even college when they were in a group, and to one degree or another, whether consciously or unconsciously, they reflected and resembled that peer group … . All of us, even adults, reflect what we are around. We reflect things in our culture and society … . The principle is this: What we revere, we resemble, either for ruin or restoration. To commit ourselves to some part of the creation more than the Creator is idolatry. And when we worship something in creation, we become like it, as spiritually lifeless and insensitive to God as a piece of wood, rock, or stone. Source:G. K. Beale, We Become What We Worship (InterVarsity Press, 2008), pp. 15 & 307
Not so much - what’s my gift? But can I notice others and honor them?
Pediatrician David Cerqueira shares a story of how a dying girl showed his church the honor of serving God:
One Sunday my wife had prepared a lesson on being useful. She taught the children that everyone can be useful—that usefulness is serving God, and that doing so is worthy of honor. The kids quietly soaked up my wife's words, and as the lesson ended, there was a short moment of silence. [A little girl named] Sarah spoke up. "Teacher, what can I do? I don't know how do to many useful things."
Not anticipating that kind of response, my wife quickly looked around and spotted an empty flower vase on the windowsill. "Sarah, you can bring in a flower and put it in the vase. That would be a useful thing."
Sarah frowned. "But that's not important."
"It is," replied my wife, "if you are helping someone."
Sure enough, the next Sunday Sarah brought in a dandelion and placed it in the vase. In fact, she continued to do so each week. Without reminders or help, she made sure the vase was filled with a bright yellow flower, Sunday after Sunday. When my wife told our pastor about Sarah's faithfulness, he placed the vase upstairs in the main sanctuary next to the pulpit. That Sunday he gave a sermon on the honor of serving others, using Sarah's vase as an example. The congregation was touched by the message, and the week started on a good note. …
During that same week I got a call from Sarah's mother. She worried that Sarah seemed to have less energy than usual and that she didn't have an appetite. Offering her some reassurances, I made room in my schedule to see Sarah the following day. After Sarah had a battery of tests and days of examinations, I sat numbly in my office, Sarah's paperwork on my lap. The results were tragic. [She had leukemia.]
On the way home, I stopped to see Sarah's parents so that I could personally give them the sad news. Sarah's genetics and the leukemia that was attacking her small body were a horrible mix. Sitting at their kitchen table, I did my best to explain to Sarah's parents that nothing could be done to save her life. I don't think I have ever had a more difficult conversation than the one that night. …
Time pressed on. Sarah became confined to bed and to the visits that many people gave her. She lost her smile. She lost most of her weight. And then it came: another telephone call. Sarah's mother asked me to come see her. I dropped everything and ran to the house. There she was, a small bundle that barely moved. After a short examination, I knew that Sarah would soon be leaving this world. I urged her parents to spend as much time as possible with her.
That was a Friday afternoon. On Sunday morning church started as usual. The singing, the sermon—it all seemed meaningless when I thought of Sarah. I felt enveloped in sadness. At the end of the sermon, the pastor suddenly stopped speaking. His eyes wide, he stared at the back of the church with utter amazement. Everyone turned to see what he was looking at. It was Sarah! Her parents had brought her for one last visit. She was bundled in a blanket, a dandelion in one little hand.
She didn't sit in the back row. Instead she slowly walked to the front of the church where her vase still perched by the pulpit. She put her flower in the vase and a piece of paper beside it. Then she returned to her parents. Seeing little Sarah place her flower in the vase for the last time moved everyone. At the end of the service, people gathered around Sarah and her parents, trying to offer as much love and support as possible. I could hardly bear to watch.
Four days later, Sarah died. …
I wasn't expecting it, but our pastor asked to see me after the funeral. We stood at the cemetery near our cars as people walked past us. In a low voice he said, "Dave, I've got something you ought to see." He pulled out of his pocket the piece of paper that Sarah had left by the vase. Holding it out to me, he said, "You'd better keep this; it may help you in your line of work."
I opened the folded paper to read, in pink crayon, what Sarah had written:
Dear God, This vase has been the biggest honor of my life. Sarah
Sarah's note and her vase have helped me to understand. I now realize in a new way that life is an opportunity to serve God by serving people. And, as Sarah put it, that is the biggest honor of all.
Condensed from an article in Today's Christian © 2008 Christianity Today International. For more articles like this, visit Today's Christian
Community Group questions
Why is it so helpful that our faith has content that is concrete and clear? How is that helpful in a diverse body? What are various ways the body helps itself know truth and believe in it?
If grace is given so we can share, why do we tend to hoard what we’ve been given? How do we help ourselves and others recognize that we can be a benefit to the body rather than just needing the body?
What are some needs in the body from your perspective? What might you do about it?
What has someone done that you perceive as a gift to the body? How can you share that with them? Who can you honor this week?
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