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Becoming United

Better Together  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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1 Corinthians 12:12–27 ESV
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

Big Idea: Protect unity in the Family of God.

We don’t pursue unity in the church. We don’t create unity. We don’t find common ground in the church so that unity can thrive. Think about this, this passage talks about a body. We didn’t create the body. In many ways we didn’t even choose to be a part of the body. And we didn’t choose which part of the body we would be. Unity of the body was established by Jesus on the cross. We simply acknowledge the unity that is here and we work diligently to protect it and carefully help it to grow.
Unity is a lot like a tiny newborn. It must be protected. It must be cared for and cherished. It must be loved. Until it grows to the point it will endure even the harshest of challenges. And still it must be protected.

1. Unity is necessary for biblical community.

Explanation: (vv. 12-14). In many ways, unity is expected and assumed. I love this picture of a body, because we I think we all know that a body is united. It has different parts, but still one. And also, some of us learn the hard way that when one of those parts is acting up, the whole body suffers. Headache and you can’t think. Break your dominant arm and you have to learn to write with your other arm. Stomach problems? And for us men, we get the sniffles and our feet stop working. We recognize how crazy it would be if our body stopped being united.
Think about if for a second. Some have unity around a common goal, a race or ethnicity, a political party, or even a sports team. In each of these examples, these group operate as one.
Christians have something even greater, we have Jesus Christ. So for followers of Jesus, we have unity around Jesus; the God of the universe who, in the greatest act of love, sent His son to pay the price for our sins so that we don’t have to spend eternity in Hell. Yes, I think that’s better than a Super Bowl. But at the same time, this act of love adopts us into the family of God regardless of your race, your nationality, your political affiliation, and yes, even if you are a Cavaliers fan.
Illustration: Back in 2003, when I was a junior in college, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Germany. I tutored English in a small german town. I barely knew the language. There were no Americans anywhere in sight. I was alone. And I think when you are alone like that, your need for community is kind of apparent. So one Sunday, I accepted an invitation to go to…all places...church. A local baptist church that had been planted in that town. I was a backslidden baptist kid on the other side of the globe attending worship in a language I barely spoke with customs I didn’t know. And I had some of the most vibrant community I’ve ever known. Why? Because we eliminated the artificial unity and got down the nitty gritty of what unites me with them; you with me; followers of Jesus around the globe: Jesus and His Word.
Application: Do you get it? Unity is right here staring us in the face. This is community. As we gather together for the sake of pointing one another towards Jesus. There is neither Jew nor Greek, Slave nor Free, American nor German, Democrat or Republican, black or white, filipino or hispanic. Warriors or Cavs fans. We are all one in Jesus. There is nothing else that has the power to unite like Jesus.

2. Unity is necessary because we need one another.

Explanation: (vv. 15-20) I love this picture of a body, because we I think we all know that a body is united. It has different parts, but still one. And also, some of us learn the hard way that when one of those parts is acting up, the whole body suffers. Headache and you can’t think. Break your dominant arm and you have to learn to write with your other arm. Stomach problems? And for us men, we get the sniffles and our legs stop working and we need everything done for us. We recognize how crazy it would be if our body stopped being united. It would be chaos.
Illustration: I think the world somewhat gets this more than we do. On teams, they acknowledge their need for one another. So they invest in one another for the sake of unity. Sometimes that means building up. Other times its tearing down. The best teams I’ve ever been a part of were where your fellow teammates and not the coach were the ones correcting a disciplining the others. Not pulling your weight, that’s why we have captains. Even in the working world, the best companies have people who see their work as part of the whole. If they don’t do a good job, the entire company suffers. Even the janitors! Nothing creates disharmony in a workplace like a clogged toilet.
Application: Like the scriptures say, unity is assumed and must be protected. How do we do that? By doing our part to acknowledge and protect that unity. We acknowledge that we need others. This is the first step. You were created to be in this community. And this community more than any other is setting you up for eternity. But then we have to acknowledge that others need you.
There is a role that only we can fill.

3. The opposite of unity is not diversity, but selfishness.

Explanation: (vv. 21-27) Its easy to say that if we all looked alike and had the same personality, unity would be easier. And really what we are saying is, if more people were like me, unity would be easy. Unity is not fleeting because there are Jews and Greeks, men and women, slaves and free, different nationalities, different political parties. Unity is not fleeting because of our diversity. Unity is fleeting in the church because there are people here. And people are by their very nature, selfish. Taking care of yourself isn’t always a bad thing, but when you are always focused on self it can be incredibly divisive. Because when a group of people are only thinking about themselves, unity dissolves. We need something bigger than our selves.
Only one thing; one person has the power to free us from our selfishness and that is Jesus.
Illustration: In a few short weeks we’ll be entering into one of my favorite times for sports: the Winter Olympics. One of the big stories leading up to the Olympics is the decision by North and South Korea to open up the Olympic games under a unified Korean flag.
Now my first thought was, what a beautiful picture of unity against all odds. My second thought was a little darker. Simply the question “why?” It is only the illusion of unity with no substance underneath. No progress toward actual unity. A beautiful thought. But only Jesus has the power to unite people that far apart.
Application: At times I think the church can be guilty of this type of false unity. We put on the facade of unity, while underneath we remain critical and selfish. We look to our preferences and we criticize what we don’t like as sinful and anti-God.
Reflection:
In the end, we have to protect unity. And there is only one way to do that. We must be diligent to stay focused on Jesus and his Word.
Like we talked about last week, we must committed to Jesus and to one another.
We must be meeting together on Sunday and in Life Groups.

Reflection: What would it look like for you to be a unifier at North Hills? What steps will you take to become united?

Let me ask you a question? Is a community of people united only by their faith and love for Jesus compelling? Is a group of people that humbly put the needs of others before their own for the sake of unity something you want to be a part of?
That is what we are doing here.
Unity starts with a commitment to Jesus first and foremost and above all else. Maybe this is where you start. Accepting the forgiveness that was paid for on the cross will not make your life perfect. In fact, it is very challenging. We are always tempted to fall away. What I can promise is that, it will give you a community.
For those of you who have followed Jesus for any length of time, are you in love with the family of God? Are you willing to protect this unity? Whether that means overlooking your preferences? Minor offences of others? Or even confronting grievous error?
In , on the night before Jesus was crucified, Jesus prayed that his people who be united. Let us be the answer to Jesus’s prayer.
Let’s pray.
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