One Body, Many Parts

1 Corinthians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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 Marriage is a model of how the Christian body is supposed to work. In marriage, 2 become 1 & treat each other with love & respect. But at times, whether marriage or a Christian body, problems occur. Joe's wife Alice likes to sing. She joined the church choir. She often practiced in the kitchen while cooking. Whenever she started to sing, Joe headed out on the deck. Alice's feelings were hurt. "Joe, why don't you like my singing?" Joe answered, "Honey, I love your singing. But I want the neighbors to know I'm not beating you." Joe's answer wasn't as unkind as it could have been. But I don't think that's how a marriage (or body) should work. How is a Christian body supposed to work? Let's look at 1 Cor 12:12-31a. 12aThe body is a unit. Just like a married couple. Likewise, it's 12bmade up of many parts. A married couple is made up of 2 very distinct parts. 12cThough all its parts are many, they form one physical body. Likewise, marriage. 12dSo it is with Christ's body. His bride. He's the Head. 13aWe're all baptized by one Spirit into His one body-Jews, Greeks, slave, or free. We're all submerged in one Holy Spirit baptism. We have equal footing. 13bWe're all given the one Spirit to drink. At salvation, we all drink the same living water. Eternal life enters & dwells in each of us. When we're baptized, God's Spirit surrounds & joins us to Christ's body, His universal church. 14Now the body isn't made up of one part but of many. Like marriage, there's 1 body with very different parts. Like marriage, each part of Christ's body is crucial. 15Suppose the foot says, "Because I'm not a hand, I don't belong to the body." It doesn't cease to be part of the body. 16And suppose the ear says, "Because I'm not an eye, I don't belong to the body." It doesn't cease to be part of the body, either. Let's get ridiculous. 17aIf the whole body were an eye, how would we hear? Dumb. 17bIf the whole body were an ear, how would we smell? Yes, we wish we could un-see some things. Other things, we don't want to smell. But sight is crucial for almost everything, & smell is crucial for taste. Why single out the foot, hand, eye, & ear? These body parts get lots of attention. The point? However important they are, they can't live without the other parts. 18In fact God arranged every part in the body just as he wanted them to be. He designed us marvelously. He lovingly created each of us. 19If there was only one part, the body would be useless. And God doesn't make junk. 20As it is, there are many parts, but one body. All parts work together. All the body parts need each other. Just so in the Christian church. Many different parts all work together. One body. All parts need each other. Without all a body's different parts, it struggles or dies. All parts are needed. 21aThe eye can't say to the hand, "I don't need you!" 21bAnd the head can't say to the feet, "I don't need you!" Those who think they're on top can't say they don't need those they look down on. 'Haves' need 'have-nots' more than 'have-nots' need them. 22Those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable. A story helps us see it. When God made us, our body parts argued. Who's Boss? The Brain said, 'I control all body parts. Obviously, I'm Boss.' The Legs retorted, 'We take you wherever you want to go. We're Boss.' The Stomach objected. 'I have to feed you all. I'm Boss.' The Eyes argued, 'Without us, you're helpless. We're Boss.' Then Rectum spoke up. 'I'm Boss.' Other body parts laughed so hard that the Rectum got mad. 'I'm on strike till you agree with me.' A few days later, the Brain was foggy. Legs were wobbly. The Stomach felt ill. And Eyes could barely see. They gave up & apologized. The moral? (Not what you're thinking.) We can't do without body parts we think the least of. What do we do with them? 23aThe parts we think are less honorable, our unpresentable parts, we treat with special modesty & honor. Unlike more attractive body parts, we adorn them with clothing. 24aOur presentable parts need no such special treatment. Just so, 24bGod combined the members of Christ's body. Many members, one body. Christ, our head. 24cHe's given greater honor to parts that lacked it. Those with small, thankless ministries. Set up for worship. Regularly call members. Prepare communion. Bring food. Pray. Give regular small $ gifts. Mail birthday cards. Take food to those ill, grieving, or in recovery. These members get special honor. Just as Jesus teaches in Mt 10:42. 42If anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because s/he's my disciple, I tell you the truth, s/he certainly won't lose his reward." Tiny ministries get special honor. God made bodies so that members can care for each other. Why does God do so? 25aSo there'll be no division in the body. No σχίσμα. No schism. We don't all have to agree or think alike. We only have to agree on essentials. And we support each other. The essentials? All sinned. We all need a Savior. We're all beggars Christ lifts up into His KoG. That so, we're on an equal footing. Who can boast? Therefore, all body 25bparts should have equal concern for each other. It's like this. A world-famous preacher spoke at a conference. Before & afterwards, he shook hands & talked a long while with attendees. Someone asked, "Why spend so much time on people you'll never see again?" He smiled. "Maybe they helped me where I am. Even if I didn't need them on the way up, maybe I will on the way down!" No Christian can say to any other member of Christ's body, "I don't need you."1 Here's the truth. 26aIf one part suffers, every part suffers with it. Doubt me? Smash a finger with a hammer. Then tell me you don't hurt from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Whether or not we see it, it's the same in Christ's body. The reverse is also true. 26bIf one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Let's don't look down on members who seem less important to us. Let's look instead for chances to honor them. How? Notice what they're doing. Go out of our way to honor them. Celebrate what they do, & thank them for their service. Together, 27ayou're the body of Christ. He's Head. 27bEach of you is a part of it. Only He is glorious. In comparison, we're all on the same footing. But just because we're equals doesn't mean our ministries are equally important. 28aIn the church God appointed 1st in importance the 28aapostles. The 12 witnessed Christ's life, death, & resurrection. They're gone. 28b2nd, prophets. Those who spoke God's written word. They stopped when Scripture was complete. But those who forthtell God's word? Preaching is important. 28c3rd, so are teachers. Without preaching & teaching, how can we make disciples? 28d 4th, miracle workers. They're important too. And they continue. But notice. They aren't as important as preachers or teachers! Still in descending importance, God 28ealso distributed spiritual gifts. Like healing: physical, spiritual, or emotional. And 28fthose able to help others. Maybe it's helping with $ for food to someone in need. Or mowing lawns & blowing snow for someone who can't. Or calling others. The gift of helps is crucial, yet behind the scenes. There are also 28gGifts of administration. Those who organize church finances & the work of being church. Finally 28hthose speaking in tongues. (The least important ministry!) 29aAre all apostles? 29bProphets? 29cTeachers? 29dDo all work miracles? 30aHave gifts of healing? 30bSpeak in tongues? 30bDo all interpret? Of course not! God distributes as He pleases. Don't envy. Rather, grow the gifts He's given us. 31Yet, we can eagerly desire the greater gifts. Really? Look at the Corinthian church. All its members wanted to speak in tongues-the least important gift! Tongues are flashy & get lots of attention in worship. But how can speaking a private prayer language help a non-believer come to Christ? It can't. And so Paul tells us to desire the greater gifts. Eagerly! They bear much more KoG fruit. Because Paul says to seek the greater gifts, there's an implication. Seek them because we can have them! Want to be a healer? Eagerly desire the gift! Want to be a teacher? Preacher? Want to work miracles? Desire the gift! Under the Holy Spirit's inspiration, Paul says we can have it! Until God gives them, exercise the gifts He's already given, faithfully. Just remember. Our gifts may differ in importance. But we are equals. One body. Christ, the Head. One last story helps us see how Christ's body should work. A poor family couldn't afford a Christmas tree. On Christmas Eve , they found one. It looked great on one side. But the other was bare & scraggly. Then they found another one. It too was full on one side, scraggly on the other. They brought both to the salesman. "Will you take $5 for both trees?" Anxiously, they waited for an answer. The salesman thought, 'No one else will want those trees.' He accepted their offer. Later that night, the salesman walked home. Suddenly, he saw a beautiful tree in that couple's apartment. It was thick, well rounded. He knocked on their door. "How'd you get such a lovely tree?" The husband smiled. "Where the branches were thin, look how we worked the two trees together. We overlapped the branches & formed one tree. We tied their trunks together. Now, they're so thick you can't see there were two." Just so, in Christ's body. Shouldn't we work together to make up for each other's bare & scraggly sides? Shouldn't we be working together to make Christ's body look beautiful? 1 Bible Exposition Commentary, 1 Corinthians, in situ. --------------- ------------------------------------------------------------ --------------- ------------------------------------------------------------ Many Parts, One Body - 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a Page 1 of 1
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