(1 Corinthians 12: 12-31)
I like to watch those HGTV shows about flipping houses. There are basically two types of house flipping shows. First, there’s the “first-time” flipper shows where some young, inexperienced couple tries to flip their first house to make a bunch of money. They want to make as much money as they can, so they cut corners and try to do things themselves rather than hire someone who knows what they are doing. Remember, the mission is to build a house that someone else will want to live in. I cringe when I see some of the things they do and wonder how long it will be before the new owner discovers the lurking problem and get the lawyers involved. Then you have the “professional” flipper programs. These are the people who make a living on flipping houses and know the value of getting it right the first time, therefore avoiding the lawyers. What they can’t comfortably do themselves, they bring in skilled craftsmen. If a problem arises, they bring in a specialist because if not fixed properly it will lead to major problems down the road, and lawyers. They understand that the mission is to build the best house possible for the prospective family to reside in. They wouldn’t dream of having the plumber shingle the roof, or the sheet-rocker do the electrical, or the electrician install the flooring. When the prospective homebuyers come in you don’t hear them remark how great a job was done in hanging the sheetrock, or installing the plumbing and electrical, or putting insulation in the walls and attic. They ooh and aah over the paint, the flooring, the kitchen cabinets, the countertops, the bathroom fixtures and the soaker tub. There’s a lot that goes into building a house that you don’t see, and these craftsmen usually don’t get any credit or recognition, but they know what they’ve contributed to the house is equally important and part of the job. Each had a job to do and did it to the best of their ability.
I see similarities in the different jobs required in building a suitable home that puts a roof over the heads of a deserving family and what Paul was describing in the different functions of the body and how they contribute to the whole. The Apostle Paul said that Christ is just like the human body, and that a body is a unit and has many parts; and all the parts of the body are one body, even though there are many. The body of Christ, like the human body, has a lot of moving parts, with many of them hidden and some of seemingly little importance. Such being the case, Paul reminds his readers that we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body, whether Jew or Greek, or slave or free, and we all were given one Spirit to drink. Certainly, he says, the body isn’t one part but many. He says that if the foot says, “I’m not part of the body because I’m not a hand,” does that mean it’s not a part of the body? If the ear says, “I’m not part of the body because I’m not an eye,” does that mean it’s not part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, what would happen to the hearing? And if the whole body was an ear, what would happen to the sense of smell? Paul tells us that God has placed each one of the parts in the body just like he wanted. He asks, If all were one and the same body part, what would happen to the body? But as it is, there are many parts but one body. He points out that one part of the body can’t tell another part of the body that it isn’t needed or any less important. The parts of the body that we think are less honorable or essential or the parts we can’t see are the ones that are the most honorable or presentable. This is so there won’t be any division in the body and so the parts might have mutual concern for each other. Paul says, if one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part gets the glory, all the parts celebrate with it. You are the body of Christ and parts of each other.
Paul continues by explaining that in the church God has appointed first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, the ability to help others, leadership skills, and different kinds of tongues. He’s pointing out that not one person has all of these gifts or skills but that we should be ambitious in improving upon our gifts.
The point Paul is making is that each part of our body has a specific function that is necessary to the body as a whole. The parts are different for a purpose, and in their differences, they must work together. In applying ourselves to the work of the church, we must avoid two common errors. First, we must not be too proud of our abilities and, second, we must not let ourselves think that we have nothing to give the body of believers. Instead of comparing ourselves to one another, we should use our different gifts, together, to spread the Good News of salvation.
The church is composed of many types of people from a variety of backgrounds with a multitude of gifts and abilities. It is easy for these differences to divide people, as was the case in Corinth. But despite the differences, all believers have one thing in common—faith in Christ. On this essential truth the church finds unity. All believers are baptized by one Holy Spirit into one body of believers, the church. In this baptism, we don’t lose our individual identities, but we do experience an overriding oneness in Christ. As members of God’s family, we may have different interests and gifts, but we have a common goal. To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
So, what’s the point you ask? The point is that there are people out there who need help and one of the true missions of the church is to help those who need help. In order for us to be effective as a church in helping the least, the last and the lost we need to be as organized as possible. It takes quite an effort to effectively run a church, even a small church like Community. We have committees that are responsible for many of the church functions. Our Trustee Committee is responsible for our facilities maintenance. The Staff-Parish Relations Committee handles personnel matters and gives me the guidance and direction I need to be more effective in my role as pastor. The Hospitality Work Area Committee makes sure our hospitality events run smoothly. The Worship Ministry Committee meets to discuss areas of worship which includes music and special services and brainstorms on service ideas. Our brand-new Faith Formation Committee meets to discuss and determine ways in which we can help people develop their faith through classes and programs. Our Mission and Service Ministry Committee presides over our many missions and areas of possible outreach. No one committee is more important than the other, but working together, our church is one body of believers tirelessly engaged in the mission of the church. Community United Methodist Church has a long and rich history of missions and outreach, so it is very important that we continue that tradition and build upon it. So, we want your help, so we can help others. You can start by keeping us in your prayers. Then you can ask the Spirit to guide you to your particular job within the body of the church. Third, you can offer encouragement and urge others to get involved, share with them how satisfying it is to be a working, functioning part of the body of believers. There is great joy in knowing that your efforts, whether seen or unseen, are making a difference in the lives of others. There’s more than enough work to go around. Many hands make for light work. Won’t you give us a hand?
Please pray with me.
In Christ there is no east or west, no south or north. In Christ there is one great fellowship of love throughout the whole wide earth. In Christ there are true hearts everywhere in communion with one another and in his service to humankind. In Christ we are all one with no differences, all heirs of the kingdom and brothers and sisters of Christ. In Christ our souls are one in him throughout the whole wide earth. In Jesus name, we pray, Amen.