Summary: BIG IDEA: We need the body of Christ in order to mature in Christ
INTRODUCTION: "White Line Syndrome" is a phenomenon I first encountered when playing basketball in a kid’s league years ago. How it works is, late in the game our coach would call a time-out, and instruct us in what we were to do once play resumed. I remember how clear his instructions sounded in the huddle--but once we broke the huddle and crossed back over the white line on the side of the court, it was as if his instructions just evaporated. His words would just fall right out of our heads! We’d run the wrong way, the wrong guy would take the shot, and more often than not, we’d do something completely unlike what our coach told us to do.
You’d think "White Line Syndrome" is only an issue in kid’s league? Not true. Coaches at every level--high school, college, the NBA--are familiar with the problem. And I’m here to tell you that there’s not a church in America that doesn’t suffer from White Line Syndrome. You know what I’m talking about—God meets you in a sermon or a worship experience, and you vow to make some changes in your life—but then on the way out to your car, you cross that white line in the parking lot, and it falls right out of your head. Anyone know what I’m talking about? It’s a real impediment to spiritual growth, isn’t it? And year after year goes by without any real growth or transformation.
There is an antidote to WLS, a way to undertake and sustain spiritual growth that we often miss, and we find it in Ephesians 4:11-16 [READ]
I. PEOPLE ARE GOD’S GIFT TO THE CHURCH (11-12)
Notice that Paul doesn’t describe the gifts as “prophecy” or “apostleship” or “evangelism,” but as apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors. He alludes here to people, not functions. So one inescapable implication is that
A. You are God’s gift to others
1. Some of you are thinking: “THANK YOU. Hear what he said, hon? I’ve known it all along. I hope everyone else gets it now.”
2. Others of you are thinking: “Really? Some gift.” But you’re here for a reason. You have a part to play, and you are important.
3. (ILLUSTRATION)The movie Drumline explores the maturation process of a talented percussionist from Harlem who receives a full-ride scholarship to play in Atlanta A&T University’s marching band.
As the scene opens the incoming band members are on the football field. The Atlanta A&T marching band is going through drills and orienting the incoming freshman. Dr. Lee’s section leaders are huddled in various sections of the football field divided according to instruments. Each leader articulates with a sense of pride the uniqueness of their instrument and their indispensability.
a. The trumpet section leader states with brassy confidence, "Trumpets are the voice of the band. We are the melody. We are the clarity."
b. The tuba section leader similarly boasts of his instrument: "Tubas are the most important section in the band, boy. Tubas are the boom."
c. As the camera pans the field we hear the saxophone leader rallying his troops: "Saxophones are the truth, the funk and the hook."
d. The percussionists circle their section leader, clapping rhythmically. Their leader says, "We are the heart and the soul. Without the percussionists, the band doesn’t move, doesn’t come alive." While the clapping continues, he puts his fingers on the neck of one of his frosh drummers. As he feels the throbbing artery, he adds, "We are the pulse. Without a pulse, you’re dead."
Each member & each section understands their importance.
You are important. You are God’s gift to others. And there’s a corollary:
B. Others are God’s gift to you.
1. Sarte: “Hell is other people.” Jesus: “My gift is other people.”
2. Look around. These people, some of whom you don’t know, are gifts to you from Jesus Christ.
So we’re gifts to each other from Jesus. But for what purpose?
II. PEOPLE ARE GOD’S "PLAN A" FOR GROWTH (13-14)
A. (ILLUSTRATION) Henry Cloud, a Christian psychologist & author, struggled with depression as a college student. He asked God to heal him, wanting God to just supernaturally zap him and he would be healed. This, he thought, was God’s Plan A. But God didn’t do that. Instead, God introduced Henry to a spiritual mentor couple, who took him under their wing, and got Henry involved in a small group, which brought healing and growth. Henry thought, I’m getting better, but I guess I didn’t merit Plan A. He thought of God’s using people in his life as Plan B. We think that too. We think that when God supernaturally intervenes to bring life change, that’s His Plan A, and when He uses people, that’s the inferior, less desirable Plan
B. But then Henry Cloud read Eph. 4, and he realized that people are not God’s Plan B—they’re His Plan A after all! God works through people. His grace travels horizontally. He comes to live inside people and lives out His plan through us in a mystery called the Body of Christ.