Based On: 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, 12-27
Have you ever stopped to think about how marvelous God’s creation is? I am baffled that some people can actually think that all of the wonderful things in this world came about by chance, through evolution. Just watch this! (Take out a pen and hold it in a hand as if to write with it.) Now isn’t that amazing? Do you know what just happened? There are 22 muscles in the hand and they all worked together along with all the bones, ligaments, skin, and other parts of the hand – simply to hold a pen.
It is amazing when you begin to understand how each part of the hand has its own job to do. Each part of the hand is important. Each part of the hand works with all the other parts and when all the parts work together, the hand can do some pretty amazing things.
God says that believers are like the parts of the hand – as well as the parts of the rest of the body. Using this illustration God says we are all part of the same body – the body of Christ.
Just like the muscles, bones and other parts of the hand, we have all been given a unique set of gifts and abilities. When you think of gifts and abilities, include the things you can do – certainly singing is a gift, teaching, compassion, generosity, being willing to listen. They are all gifts, but also include the experiences of life that have shaped you. Those too are gifts. If you have had cancer, lost a loved one, or suffered difficult financial times you can use those experiences to comfort others.
Please take note of three things about these gifts: Every believer has them. Whatever gifts you are able to use to serve God come from God. God gives these gifts in abundance.
Because God has given every believer a variety of spiritual gifts then every believer has a way to serve in the church. Everyone can contribute. In fact we all need each other. Paul puts it in terms of the body, “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!’” Everyone is important in the church.
In fact, do you see how the parts of your hand work together. All the parts are working together to accomplish the goal. The same is true in the church. For example, take this thing we do every Sunday, do you realize how all the parts of the body work together to serve God? We have a clean sanctuary to worship in because members of the body of Christ used the gifts God gave them to clean the church. Members of the body of Christ also used their gifts to greet people, usher, print bulletins, create banners, setup communion, count offerings, play organ, sing in the choir, cook food, and even take care of administrative tasks, all so we could be here today. We also need to mention that people need to be in the pews in order for Sunday morning worship to work. Each one of you is one of the muscles, bones, tendons, or other part of the body – all working together in service to Christ.
What does that mean for us? When we work together in Christ and we are connected to one another as closely as the parts of the human body are connected, then if one part suffers the rest join in that suffering. We share each other’s pain. If I accidentally hit my thumb with a hammer I can think of little else than to try to stop the pain. I might hold on to the thumb with my other hand. I might use my feet to go get some ice. The whole body is involved.
And we don’t want to cause pain in the body. If I gossip or complain about a fellow member, if I hurt one of my brothers or sisters in Christ with my words or actions – well, I have just taken a hammer and aimed right for a part of the body of Christ.
In the same way we rejoice with our fellow members who have joy. When a baby is born or there is a wedding or someone is brought to faith, we rejoice. Also at a funeral we can take joy in knowing our loved one is with the Lord.
The Bible describes how the early church worked together. We see it in Acts chapter 2, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
We see the body of Christ working together here at St. John’s when members visit other members who are shut-in or in the hospital, when we offer financial support to others who need it, when we pass on our love for Christ by teaching our children God’s Word in a Christian day school and Sunday school, when we pray for others, and when we reach out to others with the good news that Christ died for them.
But the body does not do anything by itself. Just as a human body needs a head to direct the parts of the body, we need Christ as our head to direct us. Without Christ none of us can do anything.
Christ is our head because he bought us with his own blood. Before Christ bought us we were not working together. We were as scattered as the disciples on Maundy Thursday when the mob tied Jesus’ hands and led him to the High Priest. Jesus is the one who was punished for our sinful desire to stand alone and to serve ourselves. He is the one who made us holy and fit to be a member of his body. He is the one who gave us the desire to serve one another as part of his body – the church.
Now we look to Christ as our head. We listen to his direction for our lives. Right here in Holy Scripture Jesus, our head, speaks to us and tells us what he wants. Are you waiting for God to give you that special direction in your life so that you know what to do? Wait no more. Jesus tells you everything you need to know in his Word.
As we read and study that Word, as we continue to grow in that Word, we are listening to how he tells us to move and use our gifts. As we do that we will just naturally work together as a body. Just like the fingers in the hand aren’t thinking about what they need to do to pick up the pencil so will we, as the body of Christ, move together to accomplish the work God wants done without knowing God’s master plan. As we listen to Christ the body of Christ will do amazing things.
We are members of one body. Each one of you is a part of the body of Christ. As the body of Christ we can certainly say “we have a good head on our shoulders.” May we always be directed by that head.