Summary: America is adrift without a moral standard, a moral anchor, and until we get back to the word of God, we’re going to get further and further away from God’s standard.
During World War II when the Nazis were bombing London, there was an Anglican Church that had a statue of Jesus with his arms outstretched on their lawn. The caption below the statue read, “Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy laden.” As the bombs fell, the Anglican Church was destroyed and the statue was blown up. When the members started to rebuild the church and replace the statue, they discovered the arms and hands were so pulverized from the bombing they could not be salvaged. They could have chosen to manufacture new hands and arms for the statue, but they chose not to.
Today, the statue of Jesus Christ stands outside the London church with no arms, and the caption has been changed to read, “Christ has no hands but your hands. And Christ has no arms but our arms.” We are the body of Christ, and if the body of Christ is going to move, it is going to be by our feet. If the body of Christ is going to hug, it is going to be by our arms. If the body of Christ is going to speak, it is going to be through our mouth. We are the body of Christ.
Please open your Bibles to Romans 12. As we have been talking about the past few Sundays, each one of us is a part of the body of Christ. You have a special function that nobody else has. Just like a hand does something that the foot can’t do. You have a function.
Last week we talked about spiritual gifts. If you are a Christian, you have one or more spiritual gifts that enable you to do something very special in the body. When you discover what your gifts are and start doing them; that is when the body of Christ becomes healthy and active. One of the greatest frustrations in the church today occurs when people are doing the wrong thing. They are trying to be a hand when they are a foot.
I heard a story about a duck, a rabbit and a squirrel who decided they were going to improve the world, so they started a school where they would teach three subjects: swimming, running and climbing. You know the duck could swim wonderfully, but the duck couldn’t run very well. Every time he tried to run, it looked more like a waddle. So the duck stopped swimming to take classes in running. He never got much better, and his little webbed feet got so bruised from trying to run that before long, he couldn’t even swim very well.
The rabbit could run like the wind, but the rabbit wasn’t very good at climbing trees. So he decided he would concentrate all his time and energy on learning to climb trees. He would take a running start, jump up on the tree and slide down the bark. His forepaws became so bruised and bloody that before long, he couldn’t even run.
The squirrel could climb trees like no tomorrow, but because he could not swim very well, he decided he would take swimming lessons. He would jump into the water and squirrel paddle as hard as he could and he would come out looking like a drowned squirrel. Before long, all three were terribly frustrated. You say, “Why didn’t the duck just swim and the squirrel just climb and the rabbit just run?” Well, that’s a good idea. I just wonder why, in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, the teachers don’t just teach and the encouragers don’t just encourage and the servants don’t just serve.
You see, God has given you a special gift to use in the body of Christ. When that happens, the church is healthy. But having talked about spiritual gifts, Paul now turns to his next big subject. Would you look at Romans 12:9? The first word is the word “love.” It is kind of interesting that in 1 Corinthians 12, where Paul is talking about spiritual gifts, immediately he goes to 1 Corinthians 13 that talks about a more excellent way, love. He said, “You can talk like men and angels, you can have the gift of knowledge, the gift of prophecy, you can even give your body to be burned at the stake, but if you don’t have love, he says, you are zilch, zero, sounding brass, a tinkling cymbal.”
He does the same thing here in Romans 12. He talks about spiritual gifts, spiritual gifts, spiritual gifts. He comes to verse 9 and says, “I want to show you a more excellent way. The greatest of these is love.” Let’s look at it. “Love must be sincere.” Now, to kind of look ahead a little bit, the entire remainder of chapter 12 is a commentary on that one statement, what real love is. What follows are 25 succinct characteristics of sincere love. He shoots them machine gun style, “Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam!” We’re going to look at four of them today.