Summary: Celebrating the Diveristy in the Body of Christ. As each defines and understands their role, the "team" is more and more successful
PLAYING ON GOD’S TEAM
2. How To Be A Team Player
(OPENING SLIDE) Today I want to talk about how to be a team player from 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. Paul begins by painting the picture of Christian Teamwork and Community in these words.
(SLIDE) TEAM DEFINED
1 Cor 12:12-14
12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.
13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body-- whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free-- and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.
I want to you note how diverse is the group of people Paul is speaking to. Their diversity comes from their race (Jew or Non-Jew) and their social-economic position (slave or free). Add on top of that gender differences, different citizenships, different spiritual gifts and what it adds up to is one ugly mess. Or at least it should have.
Name a situation in modern life where people from all over those different continuums can get together in harmony and oneness? Little league? Not really? Public Schools? Definitely not, we cloister according to our socio-economic position. Politics? Well, there’s some diversity there by the nature of representative government, but let’s talk harmony and oneness? Not there.
We’re hard pressed to see a community of oneness anywhere we turn, no matter what the diversity manuals are saying these days. You know why? Because humans need a reason to live in oneness. If you don’t give them a reason, then they will naturally cluster according to their kinds and their traditions and live like the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s.
Let me ask you this… what does your hand and your foot have in common? What about your hand and your liver? What does your spleen have in common with your kneecap? What does your head have in common with your back? Besides hair? What all these body parts have in common is, YOU.
Friend, if we could stand every true Christ follower in the world on this stage, and we could unpack their lives and cultures and gifts and perspectives, we would be overwhelmed with the differences. And we would wonder what could possible link them all together. What links them is Christ. What links us is nothing more or less than Jesus Christ. He is our common ground. He is our bond, he is our tie, and our unity.
I want you to look at verse 12… after Paul says, though all the bodies parts are many, they form one body. So it is with… with what? What’s his point? So it is with the church, right? But notice he ends the sentence unexpectedly… so it is with Christ. Friends that’s how closely we the church are identified with Jesus Christ himself.
We are not Jesus himself, but we are his hands and his feet, his living presence on earth. When on earth he inhabited and did his work through a human body, and now in a sense he still does, only it’s millions of human bodies that he inhabits and does his work through. We are Christ to the world…
So in this local expression of the Body of the Christ, friends, we better get in touch with the basis of our unity. It is Jesus Christ. Unity in diversity. This is team, this is community. God is just such a community of oneness… the diversity of the three persons of the Trinity, Father Son and Holy Spirit forming a unity of purpose and mind and loving servanthood! That should be us! A diverse collection of parts brought together by a powerful unifying agent that leads to oneness of purpose and mind and mutual concern.
What can get in the way of that vision of the church as body? That’s Paul’s next topic:
(SLIDE) TEAM BUSTER: INDEPENDENCE
Now interesting that Paul notes that independence can kill team and community in two ways. One is independence brought by inferiority and by superiority. First inferiority:
1 Cor 12:15-17
15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.
16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.
(SLIDE) 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?
That’s quite the picture… the whole body just ONE BIG EAR! Paul says that’s what you’re asking for if you allow the enemy to tell you you’re not needed. Imagine if the people who say, “I’m not like someone else, I’m not needed, I need to have someone else’s gift to be valuable… Imagine those folks got their way.