Summary: First in a two part message on the reality that God has made each part of the body different from other parts in order that we might see our need for each other.
As winter approaches we read all kinds of suggestions of utilizing fuel and making our dwelling places warm. Here are a few pointers for keeping warm in church:
* Rush to the front of the church to avoid the draft in the rear.
* Invite your neighbors and friends, sit on one row, and don’t leave any spaces between each of you.
* Seat yourself near the pulpit; much hot air is emitted from that area.
* Fuss and fume when you don’t like what the preacher says.
* Wait for an unfamiliar hymn - then watch the sparks fly!
* Let the Holy Spirit fill you, it will warm your heart and body.
October 20, 2002 1 Corinthians 12:14-20
“Unity, not uniformity” (pt. 1)
A first grader went on her first day to a newly integrated school at the height of the segregation storm. An anxious mother met her at the door to inquire, "How did everything go, honey?" "Oh, Mother! You know what? A little black girl sat next to me!" In fear and trepidation, the mother expected trauma, but tried to ask calmly: "And what happened?" "We were both so scared that we held hands all day."
It seems that young children have the wonderful ability to see past how we are different and allow the ways that we are the same to draw us together so that we can help one another. Unfortunately, as children mature into adults, society teaches them that those who do not fit a certain pattern are not equal in value and are therefore to be ostracized and pushed down or away. Uniformity is prized, and diversity is avoided unless of course you’re talking about your financial portfolio. This has two effects on children. The children that do not fit the pattern tend to think of themselves as inferior – of less value, less to contribute and less of a future. The children that fit the desired pattern tend to get a superior attitude. “I’m better than you are. Move out of my way.”
There have been many times throughout history when men came up with what they thought was the perfect pattern for human beings. And whenever someone didn’t match that pattern, they would exclude them…or exterminate them. That’s what Hitler did when he decided that the Arian race was the only race that deserved to live and proceeded to destroy all those who didn’t fit this pattern. This kind of thinking can also be seen in the way that white people have treated black people and in the way that men have treated women – looking down on them and treating them as second-class citizens because they did not match a uniform standard.
We want everyone to be the same. We want everyone to look alike. We want uniformity. But God, in His creativity didn’t make us all alike. This idea from our society that uniformity is the goal that we are seeking after is nothing new. People that are different and don’t match some man-made standard have always been treated with a lower level of respect…even in the church. We want people that sing like us, think like us, believe like us and act like us.
That’s what the Corinthian church wanted too. That church “was divided where it should have been unified and tried to be uniform where it should have been diverse.” – John MacArthur Because the church was not uniform, and the members of that church had different gifts from one another, some of the people believed the lie that they were inferior to the rest of the group. Others had the opposite reaction. They considered themselves to be superior because they thought that they were of greater value to the church. In verses 14 – 30 of 1 Corinthians 12, Paul teaches that all the parts of the body of Christ are equally important. Neither an inferiority complex nor an attitude of superiority are appropriate responses for the people of God.
This morning, we are going to look at the first of these responses – the inferiority complex – and see 4 ways that such an attitude hurts both the individual and the church as a whole.
1. A spirit of inferiority prevents the parts from recognizing the value of their service. (vs. 15-16)
In the verses that we looked at last week, we discovered that another name for the church is the body of Christ. We are the means for Jesus to accomplish His will and mission here on earth. In this body, there are many parts just as there are in your body. You have hands and feet; eyes for seeing and a nose for smelling. In Christ’s body, we function as different parts of His body, and the part that we are is determined by the spiritual gifts that the Holy Spirit gives to us. If you have the gift of mercy, then you are a hand reaching out to other people to help meet their needs. If you have the gift of prophecy, then you are a mouth proclaiming the message that God wants the world to hear. If you have the gift of evangelism, you are part mouth and part foot. The foot carries you to people outside the walls of the church, and the mouth opens to tell them the good news of Jesus.