Be Unstoppable

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Last week, we talked about being God’s Masterpiece. Just so we all understand this, turn to your neighbor and remind them that they are a masterpiece.
Have you ever noticed that everyone tends to gravitate towards people who are like us?
People who look like us. People who think like us. People who believe like we do. People who vote like we do. People who are in the same socio-economic demographic as we are. We like being with people that are essentially like us.
We say we want diversity. We claim we want to be different. We claim to be very anti-groupthink. But the truth is, we really like to be like others.
Even the people in High School that claim to be ‘non-conformists.’ Think about it! They all wore the same black clothes, had the same basic hair style. They all listened to the same general type of music. And they all hung out at the same places. This group of people who all looked the same, acted the same, listened to the same music, etc., called themselves ‘Non-conformists.’ Ironically, to be a part of their group you had to conform to their standards.
And if you aren’t sure about this, look at most churches on any given Sunday. Sunday morning has been called the most segregated hour of the week in America. This isn’t necessarily because we seek to exclude others, but because we are naturally drawn towards sameness. Churches marked by diversity are generally that way through lots of intentional effort.
Think about it this way. Last week I talked about Masterpieces. If yo have a building where the walls are all covered with the same masterpiece, over and over and over, it’s called wallpaper.
If you have a building where the walls are covered with masterpieces of varying size and color and shape, it’s called an art gallery.
Nobody plans a great heist to steal your wallpaper, but art galleries are targets because they have immeasurable value.
As a church, the body of Christ, when everything is the same, we cannot be a community of one that transforms the world.

We are NOT stronger When we are all the Same. We ARE stronger when we are all different.

If you have your Bibles with you this morning go with me to the book of First Corinthians. I want to read from chapter 12 beginning at verse 12.
1 Corinthians 12:12–31 NIV
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being 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 stop being 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 placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 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!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of 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? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.
First Corinthians is a letter written by Paul to a group of Jesus followers in a town where it was very tough to be a follower of Jesus. It was a very diverse city. There were people from all over the Roman Empire that lived there. There were Jews, Greeks, Gauls, Germanic, African, slaves, free, ex-military, those conquered by the military, many different religious backgrounds, and many different socio-economic backgrounds.
They didn’t all get along because they were so different. And the church in Corinth, the community of Jesus Followers, reflected the diversity of the community. This meant sometimes the people in the church didn’t get along very well. The differences weren’t simply about race, culture, economics and so on. Some of the friction was caused by the fact that different people had different gifts and different roles in the church.
So, Paul wrote this let and he reminds them of three things that is also good for us as the church of today.

1. We are One Body, Many Parts

Think of the human body for a moment. There are 600 muscles that make up the human body. There are 206 bones. The average person has between 30 and 40 trillion cells. In order for the human body to operate and function the way it is supposed to function it needs every part doing its part.
Paul assured the Corinthian church that it didn’t matter how many different types of people were in the church, because they were in Christ’s church they were now all one together no matter what background they came from.
I like vegetable soup. Especially when fall rolls around and we get that first cold spell that comes. Usually I go to the store because we don’t always have everything that I need to make my soup in the pantry.
I use 100% tomato juice as my base. I put that in the pot to get it hot and while that is getting hot I cut up my potatoes and carrots.
I have to put those in first because it takes them longer to get ready. I let them cook for a few minutes and then I add the can vegetables: peas, corn, green beans, tomatoes, rotel, and I’ll put some spices in for flavoring. There are multiple ingredients but as that soup begins to cook with all the ingredients together, that soup becomes one. That soup doesn’t taste the same without everything together. If I didn’t put the spices in, it’s not the same. If I didn’t put the tomato juice in , it’s not the same. If I left the vegetables out, it’s not the same. It takes all these ingredients to make my vegetable soup.
Each one of us is different, but because we are in the church, we are one. We all act different. We talk different. We different opinions. We have different political views. We have different ways that we like to spend our free time. We have different jobs. But as the church we are one. Our differences is what makes us great for God’s kingdom.
The next thing Paul tells them is...

2. Every Part Is Needed

Turn to your neighbor and tell them, we need you here.
I like all my parts. I am blessed that I have not had to lose a part of my body. Some of you have lost a toe or a finger. My grandfather lost 2 fingers to a lawnmower. We don’t realize how valuable something is until it is gone. Your hand or eye may seem to be more important, and may have more “glamour” in its position, but it is not more necessary or important than other parts of the body.
The parts of our bodies normally covered by clothes are often considered less honorable, but we give them greater honor by clothing them so carefully.
The parts of the body work together. The eyes and ears do not only serve themselves, but the whole body. The hands do not only feed and defend themselves, but the whole body. The heart does not only supply blood to itself, but serves the whole body. Sometimes there is a part of our body that only lives to serve itself. It doesn’t contribute anything to the rest of the body, and everything it gets it uses to feed and grow itself. We call this cancer.
We are here to serve one another and love one another and rejoice with one another.
Here are two questions for you today.
What is your response when a fellow Christian is honored?
How do you respond when someone is suffering?
Romans 12:15 NIV
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Too many times though we are jealous of those who rejoice and apathetic toward those who weep. When that happens, we have overlooked our connection with them in Christ.
We are in this thing together. There is no such thing as private Christianity. Christ makes us one, even when we wish otherwise. When we follow Christ, we find ourselves in mixed company. We shouldn’t stop with enjoying only our own relationship with God, but we need to get involved in the lives of others.

3. Be Unstoppable

Look at verse 27 again.
1 Corinthians 12:27 NIV
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
Everyone of us is a part of the body of Christ. And you individually are a part of it. We, as a community of one, are the body of Christ. The church is called to be the body, the physical representation, the hands and feet of Jesus in our world.
But the problem is, many churches are crippled. They are crippled because we don’t use all the gifts and talents and skills and abilities and passions to serve the church and to serve the world through the church.
Every one of these skills in all of their differences can be used to create a community of one that changes our world.
What if everyone here used a skill, talent, gift, ability, and passion to engage in serving the church and through the church serve the community? What would happen?
And then imagine what happens: we take those gifts, skills, talents, abilities, passions out of the church into our neighborhoods and serve our friends and neighbors.
We would be UNSTOPPABLE!!
When we are all together different, we are more than the sum of the parts.

Today’s Challenge

Today I want to issue you a challenge. I want to challenge you to step into ministry. I’m not talking about full time vocational ministry. I want to challenge you to take your gifts, skills, talents, abilities, passions and start to use them in the church to serve the world.
It is going to take time. It is going to take prayer. It is going to take some learning. And it might even take some failing. But you need to get out and start something new.
But if each one of us use the skills, gifts, talents, abilities, and passions and come together as different as we are we can begin to change our community and be unstoppable.
Be Unstoppable.
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