Summary: Is there a need for flexibility in the modern church? This sermon will examine and answer that question.

Flexibility Vs. Rigidity by Pastor Shannon Lewis 10/18/2006

1Corinthians 9:19-9:23

Tonight’s sermon will conclude our 2 part series on Creativity and Flexibility Vs. Repetition and Rigidity.

Tonight we compare Flexibility Vs. Rigidity.

We’re going to consider the two in relation to strengths. Which one yields the most strength and how can we translate this strength into the ministry of the church and into the heart of the believer.

So to begin with, typically when you hear the word Flexibility, many tend to drift toward a definition of weakness. On the other hand, when you hear the word Rigidity, many tend to drift toward a definition of strength.

But are these really accurate definitions of both? Does being flexible denote weakness and does being rigid denote strength? And can an individual be flexible and still remain strong? In the process of tonight’s sermon, we’ll find the answers to these and hopefully many more questions.

Let’s consider something that I know all of us have seen at some point in our lives, either in person or through photographs. They are Skyscrapers. These are those hugely impressive structures in major cities. The Empire State Building in New York, the Sears Tower in Chicago, the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and the tallest of all skyscrapers in Taiwan, the Taipei Financial Center which stands at 1671’ tall. What is it about these mega structures that give them their strength? Obviously there is a vast amount of engineering that comes with these buildings. Just the enormous amount of vertical pressure that is caused by gravity demands that these buildings be built on a proper foundation. These types of Skyscrapers are engineered with a reinforced core that runs vertically through the entire building. These buildings also have another force that has to be taken into account when designing and building.

It’s the force of earthquakes. Buildings today are being constructed with special technology that allows the building to flex during an earthquake rather than remain rigid. It’s been discovered that if a building can flex with the ground movements beneath it, then it’s quite possible that it will sustain less damage from the earthquake.

Also, in the event of a ground shaking, you might expect a skyscraper to be at greater risk than a 3 story apartment building. The opposite is often true. Here’s why: The taller a structure is, the more flexible it is. The more flexible it is, the less energy it takes to keep that structure from toppling over when the earth is shifting and shaking beneath it.

Let me illustrate it this way. If you have ever ridden in a bus and had to stand because there weren’t anymore seats available? If so, you have experienced exactly what I’m talking about.

While we were in Mexico this past February, we took several buses into the villages. Now these villages didn’t have paved roads. They were dirt, littered with potholes and the bus driver appeared to do his best to find every one of them. Being a nice guy, I let the kids sit and if there weren’t anymore available seats, I stood, at the back of the bus. Given the road type, this presented a problem. The bus was shaking everywhere. It was being tossed side to side, along with all of the occupants. Now, being that I was standing, I had the greater task of achieving some sort of balance. What did I do? I remained flexible! If you’ve ever been on a bus ride like this, you know what I mean.

If I would have stiffened up or made my body rigid, I would have fallen over rather quickly. But to stay on my feet, I had to become flexible enough to move with the bus. If the bus shifted left, I shifted left. If the bus shifted right, I was moving right. I was able to achieve a balance this way and thereby remain on my feet not falling on my face!

So it comes down to flexibility. If a building is flexible, the greater the chance of survival during an earthquake’s ground shaking.

It could be said this way, “The greater the flexibility, the greater the strength, the greater the rigidity, the greater the weakness.”

That’s the idea I want to draw out tonight. Flexibility isn’t a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength!

Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians says,

“19 Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”

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