Summary: Exposition of 1 Corinthians 12 regarding diversity in unity
Text: 1 Cor 12:12-26, Title: The Necessity of Armpits, Date/Place: NRBC, 11.20.11, AM
A. Opening illustration: everybody’s job on the baseball field.
B. Background to passage: Continuing to walk through Paul’s teaching on spiritual gifts, we are going to look today at the necessity of all of our ministries to produce a unified, effective, Christ-centered, kingdom-oriented growth and health. The Corinthians are prideful, envious, self-centered, and self-exalting in their use of the spiritual gifts. Some are propelling themselves to the top of the pile and disregarding other less showy members.
C. Main thought: diversity in unity
A. The ground of unity in the church (v. 12-13)
1. Paul gives the teaching in verse 12: the body is one, but its members are many. He begins to deal with diversity in the body and unity of the body. Then he gives a ground or a reason for that unity: we have all been immersed into the body by Jesus (the baptizer) with the Holy Spirit. Every believer has been (past tense) made to drink and immersed with the Spirit of God. The ground of unity is the indwelling Spirit, the transforming grace, the new life in regeneration that all believers must have. Talk for a minute about Spirit baptism vs. second blessing theology. All believers have the Holy Spirit.
2. Rom 8:9, 14-17, Eph 5:18,
3. Illustration: all the military comes through basic training/boot camp, all police officers come through the Police academy,
4. You are a part of me, and I am a part of you. And together we are the body of Christ at New River. Our unity is not based on our race, our social position, our financial level, our jobs, our choice of churches, our family histories, our theology, our worship style, our education level, or even our personalities, it is Christ! We must learn to identify and define ourselves and think of ourselves as believers more than any of these other realities. You are a Christian, in whom the Spirit of the Living God dwells. Christ has changed your life, and given you new purpose along with a new guide. The reason that you can lock arms will all these that are different from you with a great sense of affection and purpose, is because the special representative of Jesus lives inside of you, prompting you to love others and help them on their journey. And if we live a Spirit-filled life, obeying the promptings of the Holy Spirit, then even though our differences, disagreements, and diversities we will be one in Him.
B. The mechanics of unity in the church (v. 14-21)
1. Then Paul moves on to talk about how this works. In fact, he begins with the way that it doesn’t work. There are two attitudes here that he speaks of as problematic feelings about diversity in the body. 1) There were some who thought that since they didn’t have one of the more showy gifts (although any gift would apply), they were unnecessary to the body (v. 15-16). And Paul answered this attitude with the logic that if everyone was an eye, we would be deaf, and if everyone was an ear, we wouldn’t be able to smell. 2) There were some that had the showy, up front kind of gifts, and they were saying that they others where not necessary because their gifts were not necessary (v. 21). Paul answers here in two ways, first that both these attitudes are wrong and self-centered, and that God put all the members in the body as He pleased, but secondly that the parts that we think are weaker are actually more necessary, and the parts that we think are less honorable are of greater honor. Even the parts that we always cover up have extreme value.
3. Illustration: you can live without a foot, but you can’t live without a liver, “unity doesn’t mean, uniformity.”
4. Do you feel left out because you are not a teacher or a choir member? Do you feel like you are really not part of the body because your name is not on the official officers and servants list? What would it be like not to have eyelashes? So don’t envy the eye if you are the lash. The body would severely suffer if all were preachers, and there were no singers and instrumentalists, or sound people, or nursery workers, or no congregation to lift their voice in praise? Every part is important. Those who pray for our service, pray for our membership, pray for our leaders are doing more than they realize, and actually may be more necessary. If you are one who knows your spiritual gift, and uses it in a public light, and you look down upon others you “only pray,” or those who don’t do much at all, you don’t understand the body. And remember, God put you and your gifts at New River for such a time as this.