Sermons

Summary: The largest room in the world is the room for improvement. This is where we are all at. That is why Paul warns us not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought. You can only be a growing Christian if you are aware of the fact that you have a long way to go.

Back in the 1600's William Lantan was the captain of a ship headed for Barbados. A thousand

miles off the coast his vessel sprang a leak, and he had the crew take refuge in their longboat.

They had a plentiful supply of bread, but little water. After 18 days of drifting they were down to

a tablespoon per man a day. They knew their days were numbered.

Meanwhile, another ship captain by the name of Samuel Scarlet was having his problems.

They were almost out of food, but had plenty of water. They spotted the longboat and rescued

them. Each party discovered the other had what they lacked. One had bread for all, and the other

had water for all. Both crews would have perished without the other, but together they supplied

each other's need for survival.

None of us can begin to be all that God wants us to be until we grasp the value of

interdependence. All of life; all of nature; all of history, and all the universe is based on the

principle of interdependence, and the fact that everyone needs what someone else has, and

everyone has what someone else needs. Only God is totally independent and self-sufficient. All

else, and everyone else is interdependent. Satan fell from his lofty heights because he thought of

himself more highly than he ought. He thought he too could be independent and self-sufficient.

Relative independence and self-sufficiency are virtues that all of us should cultivate, but when

you strive to make them absolutes in your life, they become vices that destroy rather than develop

your potential. The Christian who really has it altogether is the Christian who can see what Paul

is saying in Rom. 12. He is saying that all Christians are members of a body, and they are all

interdependent. The Christian who cannot grasp this truth will be constantly frustrated by the fact

that there are so many Christians who are different from himself. He will be puzzled by the

diversity of views, convictions, and behavior. The end result will be his fear, uncertainty, and

insecurity with all of this, and it will lead him to make diversity a foundation for division.

This is why Paul is writing as he does here in Rom. 12. His goal is to prevent this negative

response by helping Christians to see that diversity is not demonic nor dangerous, but it is divine

and delightful. It is the differences in the members of the body that make body life so interesting,

enjoyable, and fruitful. Paul uses the analogy of the body to describe the church, because the body

is the ideal example of the value of diversity.

An old fable told of how the stomach was once accused by the rest of the members of the body

as being lazy. The stomach just sets there consuming everything, but doing nothing. So the hands

and feet and teeth decided to go on strike, and refused to do anything to help the stomach. The

stomach depended on them for its supply, and so when they refused to send it food the stomach

began to shrink, and soon it ceased to function. But the other members of the body were not all

that happy with their teaching the stomach a lesson, for they soon learned that when the stomach

got weak, so did they. They discovered that they were just as dependent upon the stomach as it

was dependent on them. With that discovery came reconciliation, and the body began again to

function in healthy interdependence.

Diversity is not only a value, it is a necessity in the body. A body is only at its best when the

eye sees a value, the feet carry the body to that valued object, the hand reaches out to bring the

value to it, the mouth and the teeth pulverize it for swallowing, the taste buds and nose add the

fringe benefits of taste and smell, the throat swallows it, the stomach digests it, the blood carries it

to all parts of the body, including the brain, which has the capacity to take into the whole positive

process for future reference when the body comes into contact with that value again. In other

words, the body is at its best when all parts of the body are working together toward a common

goal, each depending on the other to cooperate in reaching that goal.

In contrast to the beauty of such harmonious interdependence, imagine the pitiful existence of

anyone of these members of the body on its own. An eye that can see, but can make no response

that vision, or feet that can move about, but with no vision of where or why, teeth that grind up

food but with no goal for the food beyond the grinding. We could go on and on and show how any

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