Summary: Loyalty Sunday II - God has made all believers into the Body of Christ. Our gifts and talents are used by God ’build his cathedral’ in this world.
Last week we focused on the theme that God created each and every one of us for a purpose. The unique talents and skills, predispositions and giftedness are made so that you can glorify and honor God with your life. There is a Kingdom role that has been defined by your Creator that you are uniquely made to fill. And that role, beloved, begins by being aware that you are a child of the living God. You individually are an important element in the Kingdom of the Living God.
But there is a second dimension to the Kingdom – one that can only be fulfilled as individual believers are gathered by God into one Church or one Body. Both the example of us being built into a temple or into a Body is used in the scriptures to describe our collective role as believers. Our gifts, talents and blessings are not so that we can stand out or so that we can be famous or recognized. The purpose for which we are created is so that we, in humility, can take our place next to our brothers and sisters and be the Body of Christ. The whole becomes greater than the sum of the individual parts and is holier, more awesome, more faithful and more beautiful than any of the individuals that make it up. This is what Paul speaks to us about in the Second Lesson today. Let’s turn there and read it together. [read Romans 12:3-8 here]
One day, a Tourist visiting Italy came upon a construction site. “What are you doing?” he asked the three stone masons. “I’m cutting the stone,” answered the first. “I’m cutting the stone for 1000 lire a day,” said the second. “I’m helping to build a cathedral,” said the third. (Adapted from SermonCentral.com; Contributed by: Justin Meek from Bucket of Surprises)
There are three interesting attitudes that this little story conveys. The first workman seemed to have no sense of his ultimate purpose. He was oblivious to the grandeur that he was privileged to have a part in. His life was dull and mundane because He failed to see his role in the big picture.
Sometimes we live this way too. We get into a boring, hum-drum existence because we don’t see that God is using us to build the Kingdom. “ ‘Meaningless! Meaningless!,’ says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.’ What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3) The writer of Ecclesiastes laments at how mundane and purposeless life seems to be. He is talking from the perspective of a person who does not understand and know about God’s grace. Everything is empty and futile – and there seems to be nothing that makes up for it - not power, prestige, popularity or pleasure.
We too fall into that rut, don’t we? Many a person wakes up one day and says to him or herself, “What in the world am I doing here? What have I done with my life? Why in the world am I in this job or in this marriage or in this church?” When we don’t understand how we fit into God’s plans – this type of despair is almost certain to happen. We become like that stone cutter that sees nothing but the rocks and tools and the sweat and the dirt. Life has no meaning because we don’t know why God has made us. We don’t see our role in the Kingdom and so we languish.
The second stone cutter seems to have a sense for his purpose – but it is a misguided purpose. That stone cutter believes that his labors are about 1000 lire per day. Perhaps this is the biggest delusion that satan has used for people in this country. Many people are deceived into thinking that life is all about money. In our society, money becomes the gauge by which most things are measured. The significance of a person is usually assigned by how much money they have. The importance of person’s vocation is most often measured by how much money that they control or manage. Sadly, even friendships and relationships are often determined by money.
Money does strange things to people. I found this cute little story on the Internet. A radio station in Chicago challenged people by asking what they would do for $10,000.000. More than 6,000 full-tilt crazies responded. The eventual winner was a young man from Indiana who said that he would eat an 11-foot tree - a birch sapling - leaves, roots, bark and all for $10,000. He put away the 11 foot tree at a very formal event. He donned a tux and dined at a table set elegantly with china, sterling, candles and a rose vase. Armed with pruning sheers, the young man began chomping from the top of the tree and worked his way, branch by branch, to the roots. His only condiment: French dressing for the massive birch-leaf salad. The culinary feat took 18 hours over a period of three days. When it was all over, the young man complained of an upset stomach. Evidently the bark was worse than his bite. (SermonIllustrations.com - from the December 1980 issue of Campus Life)