Call to Worship
*Praise #53 All Things Bright and Beautiful
*Invocation (Lord’s Prayer) Our Father of life and light, as we gather in your house to worship, make pure our hearts that we may know your presence. May we experience your nearness as your Word is proclaimed. Strengthen our resolve that we may choose the right paths of life. Lead us in the way of the gospel, which is known to us through your son Jesus Christ.
*Gloria Patri # 575
Our Offering to God Be imitators of God . . . and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5:1–2 NIV).
*Prayer of Dedication Eternal God, we know that in your heart a contrite spirit is more acceptable than burnt offerings. Grant that the gifts we bring are the authentic demonstration of the dedication we give of ourselves—body, soul, and spirit—unto you, which is our reasonable service.
Scripture Reading Nehemiah 8:1-10
8 1 all the people gathered together into the square before the Water Gate. They told the scribe Ezra to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had given to Israel. 2 Accordingly, the priest Ezra brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding. This was on the first day of the seventh month. 3 He read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law. (NRSV)
5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. 6 Then Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. Then they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. (NRSV)
8 So they read from the book, from the law of God, with interpretation. They gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.
9 And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law. 10 Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
*Hymn of Prayer # 587 Let the Words of My Mouth
…they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, Romans 3:24
Praise God for... the saving grace we can experience in God through Christ.
Ask God for... encouragement, inspiration, and uplifting strength for the West family, (IM missionaries in Zambia) and for all missionary families.
Thank God for... protecting us.
Healing for... Dee as she goes into surgery this week for breast cancer.
Father, thank you for being our Good Shepherd. We thank you for leading us, loving us, even giving up your life so that we might be restored to an intimate everlasting fellowship with you, our Creator. You are our shepherd—our protector, our defender. Help us in the growth process of our spirituality. Increase our own appreciation of who you are, how you love all of humankind, not just us—or even those like us. Impress us so that, like you, we can love those who are very different from ourselves, those whose skin is a different color, those whose culture and even values are different from ours, those whose religious convictions are different from ours, and those whose economic level is far below or far above ours. Because you love all, we ask you to help the oppressed of the earth—the victims of hunger and racial discrimination and those whose individual freedoms are prohibited by political
forces that initiate great injustice. Make us more sensitive to you and to one another—more conscious. Bring us to both humility and boldness. Shepherd us in our own spiritual pilgrimage. Give us the courage to be merciful, the endurance to be faithful to those in our care, just as you are with each of us. It is in the name of the one true and everlasting God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit that we pray.—Larry Ellis
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the decrees of the Lord are sure, making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes; 9 the fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the honeycomb.
*Hymn of Praise # 483 We’ve a Story to Tell to The Nations
Scripture Text 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles,* some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.*
14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?
18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”
22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. 23 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, 24 while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.
27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. 28 Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church:
first are apostles,
second are prophets,
third are teachers,
then those who do miracles,
those who have the gift of healing,
those who can help others,
those who have the gift of leadership,
those who speak in unknown languages.
29 Are we all apostles? Are we all prophets? Are we all teachers? Do we all have the power to do miracles? 30 Do we all have the gift of healing? Do we all have the ability to speak in unknown languages? Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages? Of course not! 31 So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts.
Message One Entity
*Hymn of Response # 96 Praise Him! Praise Him!
SUNDAY, JANUARY 21, 2007
TEXT: 1 Cor. 12:12–31a
Charles Pierson, “News Flashes from the Cadaver Chronicle,” in The Wittenburg Door. Dateline Leg. In an unprecedented move today, the toes and metacarpal bones of the left foot went on strike at 8 A.M. When asked for an explanation, Bill Big Toe, leader of the United Phalanges Union, replied, “We’re tired of being stuck down here in a sweaty shoe. It’s about time management made some better arrangements.” When asked what these might be, Big Toe said that the left foot wanted to trade places with the right hand.
While the strike has not curtailed work seriously, the Body has had to trade its manual-shift car for one with an automatic transmission. Left Foot had the job of working the clutch.
Dateline Cranium. Hearing came to a screeching halt in the body at midnight last night, as both ears walked off the job. The resignations came, in the words of a union spokesman, because the ears were “tired of being assaulted with the ever-increasing noise level.” Originally, the eyes had been expected to join in a sympathy strike. They failed to do so, they said, because “there are so many beautiful things in the world to see.” When informed that the sympathy strike had failed to materialize, spokesmen for the ears replied, “If we had things as nice as the eyes, we wouldn’t be quitting, either.”
Dateline Stomach. The stomach has begun releasing excess gastric acid in an attempt to force the brain to acknowledge the importance of digestion. Representatives of the Society for Sounder Stomachs felt the protest would be successful because, “by affecting the brain we can make the whole body feel miserable.” Negotiations are scheduled to begin sometime today. ///
Even a quick observation of the human body discloses three simple facts: (1) the body is one whole entity; (2) the body consists of very different parts, both in form and function, and (3) the bodily parts depend on one another to function properly. These facts reflect the magnificent way in which God designed us, and when all three of these truths are realized, we are healthy and able to live normally.
The same three facts are true of the Church—the body of Christ—as indicated in today’s text from 1 Corinthians 12. Paul uses the “body” metaphor to give instruction to the Church concerning how its members should view themselves and relate to one another. The passage is a continuation of the chapter, in which Paul listed several spiritual gifts. Extending that discussion in the passage before us, he describes how all of these spiritually gifted people relate to one another. His point is that a healthy, unified Church exists when its diverse members function interdependently.
|Christians are like parts of a body. They are different from one another, but belong together. Feet are different from hands—and very different from eyes—and yet they belong together and need one another. The eye is deaf—it needs an ear. The ear can’t smell—it needs a nose.|
And so it is with the church—we are incomplete and disabled without one another’s gifts. This is true in each individual parish church but it is also true in our town with the different types of churches. And throughout the world the many churches exist as the one body of Christ.
I. Unity in the Church exists in diversity (vv. 12–14, 19–20). Being different and yet alike seems to be a contradiction. However, the body metaphor demonstrates that the two are not mutually exclusive ideas. Actually, both are true. The word one is repeated four times in verses 12 and 13 to refer to the oneness of the Church, based on a common salvation experience.
Though we may come from differing ethnic, social backgrounds, or denominations, Christians are united in our common experience of divine grace in salvation. This common ground provides a basis for life together as the Church.
At the same time, Paul repeats the word many four times (vv. 14, 19–20) to underscore the diversity of people within the Church. The diversity he has in mind, indicated in the prior context, concerns spiritual gifts, although it is also true that personalities in the Church differ and lend to its richness. Thus unity—a shared basis of being and common goals and purposes—fruitfully coexists with diversity of role and gift within the Church. Paul teaches that Christians should not only function together but also feel together. In a body, the toothache or a sore toe can make the whole person miserable. So it is with the church. Christians should so feel for one another that they are sad or glad together.
So — vive la différence! God builds the church in the way he decides.
II. Diversity in the Church necessitates interdependence (vv. 15–24a). Because believers are gifted differently and no believer is omni-competent, interdependence is necessary. That is, in God’s grand design for the Church, he has made it so that everyone has a significant place and role in which to serve, and we all need each other.
However, at times we may lose sight of that interdependence. One might, like the foot, believe that because he is not the hand, he is not a part of the body. Or another, like the ear, might believe that because she is not an eye, she is not a part of the body. The problem here is that some may feel that they are inferior to others in the Church, that their gifts are not as important as those of others. The fallacy of such thinking is that it is based in comparing ourselves to one another and assigning relative value based on roles (vv. 15–16). The result of such thinking, unchecked, is that one may quit serving in discontent, envious of the gifts and roles of others (vv. 15–16).
The solution to this dysfunction occurs when the one who feels inferior realizes that no one has all the gifts, that he or she is necessary to the wholesome operation of the Church (vv. 17, 19), that the gift and role that he or she holds is one of divine appointment, and that all service ranks the same with God. Indeed, to complain about one’s gift is to despise God’s sovereign and gracious actions (v. 18).
Another problem can arise with people who feel superior to others, based on their gifts and roles in the Church. These are those who, with an air of contempt, declare that they have no need of others (v. 21). As the eye might say to the hand or the head to the feet, these people say, “I have no need of you.” The fallacy in this way of thinking is that it is based in human standards of evaluation, which tend to focus on the visible and the spectacular rather than value the humble and less obvious. The problem is that the less visible gifts “seem” to be weaker (v. 22), and the gifts that are more visible we “deem” to be more worthy of honor (v. 23).
The solution to this form of spiritual pride is that God has seen to it that the supposedly weaker parts are given elevated necessity (v. 22) and honor (v. 23). The persons with the more visible and attractive gifts do not need this extra care, but God sees to it that those who need it receive it.
III. Interdependency in the Church produces unity (vv. 24b–26). This idea brings us full circle, noting that the unity that God intends for the Church is achieved through his designed interdependency of its members. These verses stress that it is God’s intentional activity that achieves these outcomes. He has so tempered the body together that mutual care results (v. 24b). In this kind of unity, schisms are eliminated and impartial concern is expressed. Believers share together both in the suffering and in the rejoicing of fellow members (vv. 25–26).
The passage concludes with a shift from the body metaphor to a listing of roles and gifts within the Church. The emphasis is placed on the diversity among these roles and gifts (vv. 28–31), implying that when they are exercised in love (chapter 13), the Church is well served.—Robert Vogel
V 13 Paul does not say that we are made one body by baptism, but by the baptism of the Holy Spirit—that is, by spiritual regeneration.
It is not, therefore, by baptism as an external rite but by the communication of the Holy Spirit that we are made members of the body of Christ.
Paul makes special mention of parts of the body which are weak or shameful. He often feels weak himself — and knows that some Christians at Corinth are ashamed of him. But he is an apostle and evangelist — a reproductive organ of the church. Just as a body puts on clothes to avoid embarrassment, so the church must take special care of the parts that preach the gospel.
Of course, there is an order in which the different parts emerge.
Apostles come first. As witnesses to the death and resurrection of Christ, they lay the foundations of the church. Prophets come next, as they speak God’s word to particular situations. Then teachers are needed, with the skill and patience to help people understand and live the Christian way.
There are many other indispensable gifts — such as working miracles, healing, helping, administrating or speaking and interpreting tongues… No one person has them all, for God has made us to belong together. It is together that we make up the body of Christ on earth.
• T or F? The more important the spiritual gift, the more mature and spiritual the person.
• T or F? The major evidence of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life is his or her ability to speak in tongues.
• T or F? We must ask God for the spiritual gift we want.
• T or F? A person “under the influence” of the Spirit can’t help shouting out.
• T or F? Some Christians have little to contribute to others.
• T or F? In church meetings, only the pastor should teach, because he’s usually the only one with seminary training.
• T or F? There is no real test for “spirituality.”
• T or F? Some people are more important than others in the church as in every other situation.
INVISIBLE PARTS. The interdependent function of the parts of the body and the necessity of all to enable others to thrive might be seen in analogy with a beautiful, graceful woman. Her beauty is striking, as it is visible in her facial features, skin tone and complexion, thick hair, and the like. These features may define her beauty, but a host of invisible organs are essential to the appearance one sees and admires. No one is going to be attracted by her liver; no one will compliment her kidneys; her thyroid will not win any beauty contests. Yet apart from the good health and normal function of these organs, her appearance will not be beautiful. The visible parts could never proclaim their independence of the less honored, less glorious parts. All must be in their rightful place, serving their God-intended purposes.—Robert Vogel
* Greek some are Greeks.
* Greek we were all given one Spirit to drink.
Tyndale House Publishers: Holy Bible : New Living Translation. 2nd ed. Wheaton, Ill. : Tyndale House Publishers, 2004, S. 1 Co 12:12
Hodge, Charles: 1 Corinthians. Wheaton, Ill. : Crossway Books, 1995 (The Crossway Classic Commentaries), S. 1 Co 12:13
Hodge, Charles: 1 Corinthians. Wheaton, Ill. : Crossway Books, 1995 (The Crossway Classic Commentaries), S. 1 Co 12:13
Knowles, Andrew: The Bible Guide. 1st Augsburg books ed. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg, 2001, S. 586
Knowles, Andrew: The Bible Guide. 1st Augsburg books ed. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg, 2001, S. 587
Richards, Larry ; Richards, Lawrence O.: The Teacher's Commentary. Wheaton, Ill. : Victor Books, 1987, S. 857