Sunday Message (Oct. 13): Killing the Lone Ranger
Text: Acts 18:24-28
Message Audio: Listen HERE
On Sunday I unpacked the necessity of being involved in a Jesus community (Church) by exploring the statement: communal participation creates mission preparation. We took a look at the story of Apollos to better understand how your effectiveness in God's mission is related to your connection to his community. I sent you home with two key points:
- Participating in community makes YOU better.
- Participating in community makes the Church better.
Matt Clark is one of my best friends. We have shared life since my sixth grade year. One year Matt and I were teaching a class at Encounter, a summer camp on the Lubbock Christian University campus. Our class had ADD. We jumped from yoga, to a movie quoting battle, to our own rendition of the strong man, to a pointless skit. During the skit, I was supposed to punch him in the arm. The first two classes were flawless but during the third class, as I fired my punch, Matt turned and I hit him awkwardly in his chest. Immediately I knew this was bad, not because I had broken my hand but because I had broken my hand on his chest. He still flexes and gloats today, "Remember when you broke your hand on my chest?" What are friends for...
An orthopedic specialist confirmed that I had a boxer's fracture but let me know I would not need surgery. He laughed saying, "Usually I deal with these kinds of breaks from guys who have been in bar fights and not from pastors!" A bar fight would have been a better story. Over the next few weeks a cast rendered my pinkie and ring finger useless. I tried not to let the cast slow me down. I continued to ride my bike. I played volleyball at camp (left handed). For the sake of humanity, I continued to shower. I carried on as usual and while I was able to do most of the things without the cast, I was far less effective and efficient. My bike steering was shaky, my volleyball game unsightly, and my showers slow and frustrating. Although 99% of my body was in full gear, the absence of a pinkie and ring finger had significant impact on my effectiveness. I'm better with ALL parts of my body working together!
Enter New Testament preacher, writer and apostle...Paul:
Paul established a church in the city of Corinth. The church in Corinth was made of people, therefore the church in Corinth had conflict. Paul addresses the Corinthian problems in a letter. Among the slew of Corinthian issues, the church was dividing over who had the superior spiritual gift: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, speaking different languages, or interpreting heavenly languages (I Corinthians 12:7-10). Paul explains in chapter 12 that spiritual gifts have no hierarchy. The Holy Spirit does not distribute gifts based on merit or importance. The Spirit gifts people for the benefit of the Church! Paul says it this way:
There are different kinds of gifts, but they are all from the same Spirit. There are different ways to serve but the same Lord to serve. And there are different ways that God works through people but the same God. God works in all of us in everything we do. Something from the Spirit can be seen in each person, for the common good. (I Corinthians 12:4-7)
He uses the human body as an analogy to explain this concept further:
A person’s body is one thing, but it has many parts. Though there are many parts to a body, all those parts make only one body. Christ is like that also...If each part of the body were the same part, there would be no body. But truly God put all the parts, each one of them, in the body as he wanted them. So then there are many parts, but only one body. (I Corinthians 12:12, 19-20)
Paul uses the body analogy to stop the Corinthian infighting, but I want to use his analogy to encourage you to use your giftedness for the benefit of the Church. Paul's body metaphor centers on the power of diverse gifts uniting around a common purpose...the purpose being the Church and the mission of God. If an individual refuses to use their giftedness in the church The Body suffers. The church is less efficient.
Just like a boxer's fracture, the church will continue to function without the use of a limb, an ear or an eye, but it will wobble a bit more. It will ride unsteady. It will move slower. The functioning members will have to exhort greater effort to compensate for the non-functioning members. But, when everyone uses their gifts for the mission of the church, the church is better.
The Holy Spirit has gifted you! He has gifted you to contribute to God's mission through the church. You may say, "But I'm just an ear!" We need you. Or, "I'm just a pinkie!" Trust me, I speak from experience. When the pinkie is out of commission the body misses it! Withholding your gifts and talents from the church hurts the church and the mission of God. Let me encourage you to get involved!
(For TCOC members and attenders, we offer a Gift Survey HERE to help you discover your unique giftedness. Take it and then use it. We need you!)