Summary: Second of two parts on the reality that no part of the body can claim superiority or feel inferior because all parts are necessary and empowered by God.
October 27, 2002 1 Corinthians 12:21-31a
“Unity, not uniformity” (pt. 2)
For more than a year a little old cleaning women, who lived on the wrong side of the tracks, had been trying to join a fashionable downtown church. The pastor was not eager to have a seedy looking person in faded, out-of-style clothes sitting in a pew next to his rich members. When she called for the fifth time to discuss membership, he put her off for the fifth time.
"I tell you what," said the pastor, "you just go home tonight and have a talk with God about it. Later you can tell me what He said."
The poor woman went her way. Weeks moved into months, and the preacher saw no more of her and his conscience did hurt a little. Then one day he encountered her scrubbing floors in an office building, and felt impelled to inquire, "did you have your little talk with God, Mrs. Washington?" he asked.
"Oh, my yes," she said, "I talked with God as you suggested."
"Ah, and what answer did He give you?" asked the pastor.
"Well, Preacher," she said as she pushed back a wisp of stringy hair with a sudsy hand, "God said for me not to get discouraged, but to keep trying. He said that He Himself had been trying to get into your church for 20 years, with no more success than I have had." - Unknown (PULPIT HELPS, Sept., 1990)
That church had what I would call an attitude of superiority. They felt that they were too important to need someone who they felt didn’t match up to their standards. But in the verses that we are going to look at this morning, we are going to discover that no part of the body of Christ is of any greater value than any other part. We all stand as sinners in front of a holy God, we have all been saved by the same grace, and our sins have all been washed away by the same blood.
In spite of what God has done in their lives, some Christians never get involved in actively serving Him in a local church. Paul deals with two reasons for this here in verses 14 – 31 of 1 Cor. 12. The first is that “some feel that they have no gifts or abilitites that are worthwhile, and so sit back and let others do the work.” We dealt with that reason last week. We saw that there are no inferior people, and there are no inferior spiritual gifts. The second reason that people do not get involved in ministering with others in a local church is because they “feel they are so highly qualified that they do not really need the help of others to perform their ministry”. A spirit of inferiority and an attitude of superiority both have the same affect: they isolate Christians from one another. They divide us. We become unproductive separated parts rather than the powerful unified body of Christ. “We are not to isolate ourselves in our supposed inadequacy, nor are we to isolate ourselves in our imagined superiority”, and it is that attitude of superiority that we are going to deal with this morning.
Let’s take a look at three ways that an attitude of superiority can prevent the body of Christ from being healthy and accomplishing God’s mission for it.