Summary: The first in a series of 4 sermons reflecting on Paul’s favorite description of the Church as the Body of Christ. In this message we reflect on the unity and diversity in the body of Christ.
CHRISTIAN A & P (Anatomy & Physiology) 101
1. Last Sunday afternoon, on our drive back home to Issaquah, Anne and I stopped in at our middle daughter, Gabrielle’s home to visit with her, her husband Scott, and our little grandson, Kyle.
• Barely 3 minutes into our conversation they let us know that Gabrielle’s doctor had confirmed on Friday that she is pregnant. Naturally, we rejoiced with them over this wonderful news.
• With Scott being the technology and photography enthusiast that he is, we will no doubt be treated to ultrasound pictures or videos of the growing and developing baby from the moment that a meaningful image is first available.
• Isn’t it amazing how technology has permitted us to have a live audio-visual presentation of the physical formation and development of our children virtually from the moment of conception?
• A Reuters news health report on the Internet on Friday carried this headline: Babies show signs of crying in the womb. The report went on to state “An infant’s first cry may occur not in the delivery room, but in the womb, researchers have found. With the help of video-recorded ultrasound images, the investigators found that a group of third-trimester fetuses showed evidence of "crying behavior" in response to a low-decibel noise played on the mother’s abdomen. Fetuses showed a "startle" response to the noise, along with deep inhalations and exhalations, an open mouth and a "quivering" chin -- all signs of crying. The behavior, seen in 11 fetuses, began as early as the 28th week of pregnancy.”
2. The development of our bodies is just an amazing miracle of God’s creation. Out of the union of the ovum and the sperm, that one new cell divides and subdivides until our bodies are fully formed – with all the DNA programming built into each cell about exactly what body part it needs to form and to which other body part it needs to be joined. That is just amazing! And in the great majority of cases all the parts end up being where they are supposed to be and functioning as they should.
• But of course total health and wellness in the pre-natal period, infancy, child- and teenager hood, and throughout our adult life is by no means an automatic given.
• In the process of us having our three lovely daughters there were three other new little lives that began and ended before they got to enter this world.
• Sadly, sometimes, we have to contend with all kinds of physical and psychological growth and developmental complications, abnormalities, diseases and injuries that place a wide variety of limitations or restrictions on us or that even shorten the lifespan.
• I still have an uncle back in South Africa who turned 89 this past April but mentally and emotionally has been an 11 year old throughout all his years since. He had a severe case of meningitis at that age at a time when medical treatment for this disease was very limited.
3. Now of what possible relevance is this information to us this morning? Well, in the Scripture lesson Steve read to us, and in other places in his letters – in Romans, Ephesians, and Colossians – the apostle Paul uses the image of the Body to refer to the relationship of Christ with His church and of the members to one another. He doesn’t say we are “like a body” – similar to - he says we “are the body of Christ” – a statement of reality.
4. So commencing this morning, and continuing over the next three Sundays, we will examine and apply some of the lessons we already know about our physical anatomy and physiology to the greater reality of our spiritual, Christian, or ecclesiastical (another word for “church”) anatomy and physiology. My purpose over the next few weeks is that we will come to have a greater understanding and appreciation of our ONENESS or UNITY, the SUPPORT we are responsible to give one another, the NOURISHMENT and COMMUNICATION we are to share with one another, and our responsibility together to OBEY AND CARRY OUT THE DIRECTIVES FROM THE HEAD.
A. OUR ONENESS OR UNITY
1. Aren’t you glad that your body is pretty much a single unit and that all the parts are exactly where they are supposed to be? We are not just a bundle of parts thrown together any old how. Every organ, every bone, every muscle, every tissue, every nerve and cell is exactly where it is supposed to be. And they all operate and cooperate to maintain the structural unity and integrity of our one body system.
2. I know that as we age or have injuries or diseases certain parts wear out or quit functioning and have to be replaced or enhanced – teeth, eyes (with glasses or contacts), ears (with hearing aids), hips, knees, and ostomies and especially when we have removable parts, remembering where we placed them is absolutely vital.