Summary: This is a message that takes a look at unity, diversity and maturity in the body of Christ.
Preaching Series: The Tie That Binds
The Unity of the Church
Text: 1 Corinthians 12:1-31
Introduction: A man had the misfortune of being stranded on a deserted island. To make the best of it he puts his talents to use and built a small town. Several years later, he was finally rescued when a passing ship saw his signal on the beach. As the captain’s party greeted him, one of the crew asked, "What have you been doing for all these years?" The man replied, "Come on, I’ll show you." With that he took them a little further in and presented his town. "This is impressive," said the captain. "What is that building?" he asked as he pointed to a rather large structure. "Oh, that’s the town hall." "And may I ask, what is that building?" The fellow burst with pride as he exclaimed, "That’s the library!" Another enthusiastic person pointed to a beautifully crafted facility with a large steeple and asked, "Is that building a church?" "Why, yes it is." Suddenly one of the landing party turned to a similar looking structure and asked, "Then, what is that?" "Oh, that’s the church I used to attend!" Human beings are a funny breed, aren’t we? If we can’t argue with someone else, we’ll find a way to be in conflict with ourselves. This is not how it ought to be, however, Next fall when you see geese heading south for the winter, flying along in V formation, you might be interested in knowing what science has discovered about why they fly that way.
• It has been learned that as each bird flaps its wings, it creates uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in a V formation, the whole flock adds at least 71 % greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.
• Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone, and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front.
• When the lead goose gets tired, he rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point.
• The geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.
• Finally, and might I add, most impressively, when a goose gets sick or is wounded by a shot and falls out, two geese fall out of formation and follow him down to help and protect him. They stay with him until he is either able to fly, or until he is dead, and then they launch out on their own or with another formation to catch up with their original group.
What a wonderful illustration from nature of unity! If we as believers could learn to get along in a similar way, there’s no telling the possibilities. Why if people knew that Christians would stand by them like that, they would line up to get into our churches on Sunday ;morning. I wonder if all we have to do in order to attract outsiders to our church is to demonstrate to the world that we have as much sense as geese here at CLCBC. That seems little enough price to pay to win the lost and minister to one another. Even geese have sense enough to know it works every time.
This is the 7th message in a series that I’ve entitled, "The Tie That Binds." It is my hope and prayer that God will use these sermons to increase our understanding and resolve to live out His plan and purpose for the church. Today I want to spend the next twenty-five minutes with you looking at a familiar passage that speaks to the topic of the body of Christ. It’s found in 1 Corinthians 12 and 13. Here’s what the Apostle Paul has to say about ’getting along’ with each other.
I. We must maintain unity in the body (See 1 Corinthians 12:1-13). The Corinthian church was a divided group with at least four different groups competing for leadership (See 1 Corinthians 1:11-12). They stood in opposition to one another with regard to a number of issues: sexual freedom verses abstinence; the role of men and women in the church; how much of a break should there be from their pagan pasts; the use of prophecy and tongues; and the bodily resurrection of Christ. It is obvious to Paul that the place to start in these verses about the body of Christ is with the oneness of the church. Here are four wonderful bonds of spiritual unity grounded in the theology of God.
A. We confess the same Lord (See 1 Corinthians 12:1-3). As unbelievers the Corinthians were influenced and led astray to idols. These dumb idols never spoke to them, but God did by His Spirit! As a result, they came to faith in Christ and so by the Holy Spirit confessed that "Jesus is Lord." It is our recognition of and submission to Christ’s lordship that makes unity possible.