Summary: The Body of Christ grows when everybody plays their position (i.e. through mutual contribution and diversity of gifts.)
The Power of Teamwork
Brad Bailey – November 20, 2011
Main Point: The Body of Christ grows when everybody plays their position (i.e. through mutual contribution and diversity of gifts.)
Yesterday I had my final day of the flag football season which I’ve been coaching.
One of the most important aspects is imparting that it is a team sport in which the goal is not to run with a ball…but for the team to move the ball down field and into the end zone… and that every play works based on every player’s part. As the often stated acrostic puts it:
T - TOGETHER
E - EVERYONE
A - ACHIEVES
M - MORE than we could ever do on our own
The potential of the team is only realized when everyone plays their position.
That same dynamic is true of our calling as a community to gather and grow life with God in our time and place.
As we’ve come to our final week in our series entitled ROOTS… recapturing the life of Christ in us… we come the significance of participation… of playing as a team… of playing our position.
Acts 6:1-7 (NIV)
1 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word." 5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. 7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.
Here Luke tells us how the movement grew…. He begins noting how “the number of disciples was increasing”… and ends describing how “the number of disciples grew rapidly.” In fact it begins with that which reflects addition… and ends with that which reflects multiplication. What lies in between is the challenge that had to be overcome.
1 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.
A problem had arisen in the fellowship of the Jerusalem church, which by now had grown to over 8,000 members, made up of Jews and Gentiles from Jerusalem, the surrounding Palestinian area, from Egypt, Libya, Italy, Arabia and from other countries. There was a cultural distinction… primarily between Jews who were local and spoke Hebrew (and Aramaic) and those who were from outside Palestine and spoke Greek. Those non-locals were feeling like outsiders. 
The Grecian Jews widows were being overlooked… and the result was that those serving the community in the Word and prayer were not going to fulfill their service well.
The problem… was ultimately two aspects of the same issue: consumerism.
What had been so beautifully described in Acts 4 regarding how they shared their resources in common… faced the oppositional pull of ‘self-serving.’ A ‘we’ and ‘them’ perspective began to develop.
Some were focused on what they could get... at the neglect of others… and the apostles who had been serving the process… were coming up short. The community was beginning to become too divided by providers and consumers. This was the danger that threatened the church. The apostles had centralized too much in themselves and would have to break that down… while the community at large would have to embrace what it means to share that responsibility.
They had persecution from outside… but persecution has never stopped the work of Christ. What really threatened the power of the church wasn’t an issue with persecution but participation from within.
This danger is still at hand.
The greatest challenge in embodying the ministry of Christ today is our focus on ourselves… the self consumption of consumerism.
Consumerism is not the same as consuming.
Consuming from what others provide is not only okay… it’s great… it’s healthy. Consuming is part of life… but consumerism is deadly.
“Consumerism” refers to our whole way of seeing ourselves in relationship to others. Consumerism is an inner focus on what we can get… and what others can provide.