On Sep 7, 2014, pastor Darin preached a sermon from 1 Cor 12:4-7, 12-27 entitled “Members of the Body Christ.” The apostle Paul writes to the church that was in the Greek city of Corinth. This church struggled with various issues of sin, and controversies that threatened to destroy the church. One controversy was over spiritual gifts: some exalted their gifts and marginalized those who didn’t have those gifts. So in our text, Paul shows what the heart of church membership is about. He equates the local church to a physical body, and lets them know that God has placed all Christians in a local expression of His body, and has given them all spiritual gifts for the common good of that body. So, the main idea of the sermon is that God has designed the church to be the place where we use our gifts to edify others, to recognize our deficits, and live in a community of mutual giving and receiving. There are 4 key things to see:
1. God has intentionally gifted you for the common good of the body
a. In verses 4-7, we see that every believer in Christ is given gifts from God. These are abilities given to you so that you may serve a church community in a way that brings you joy.
b. We are accountable to use our gifts—to whom much is given, much is required. (Luk 12:48) God has been intentional in your life and gifted you to serve a particular church for the common good.
c. Dig deeper application: Membership means in part that I am connected to a body to serve that body. So, what are your gifts, and are you serving the body of Christ with them? Pastor Fred Zaspel provides helpful guidance on how to discover your spiritual gifts (drawn from http://www.biblicalstudies.com/bstudy/spiritualgifts/ch08.htm)
i. Examine your DESIRES: ask yourself, "What do I want?" If God gifts you a certain way, it is reasonable to assume that he will with that gift also give you the desire to exercise it.
ii. Examine the EVIDENCE: …if the evidence says there is no giftedness, then find another area of service…simply examine the evidence in light of your desires.
iii. Examine the OPPORTUNITIES: Simply look for a need which you are able to fill.
2. God has withheld gifts from you intentionally for the common good of the body
a. In verses 21–23, emphasis is placed on the body: God designed you and me to not only have gifts, but to also have deficits in our gifts and abilities so that we could receive from others who are indispensable to our vitality and growth in Christ. Membership then also means that I am connected to a local body to be ministered to by that body.
b. Metaphor of the body brings out the breathtaking perspective on the church. Plato: “When one of us has a wounded finger…we say the man feels pain in his finger. Even so, with every other part of the body, when one part suffers there is pain, and there is joy when one part is restored to health.” This is similar to what Paul gets at in v. 26 “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” God has designed the church to be the place where this kind of connection happens naturally. CS Lewis: “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art...It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”
c. Dig deeper application:
1) When you don’t recognize God’s design for others to meet your deficits, you will not thrive in your walk with Christ.
2) Have you invested yourself in the lives of others in the body of Christ so that you can actually experience this? A good place to work this out is in home groups and other small groups. If you’re not a part of one, we invite and encourage you to get connected to one as soon as possible. Contact Darin or John, and they will point you in the right direction.
3. How God designs the church to operate in terms of giving and receiving of honor
a. Just as we keep parts of our physical bodies covered, there are parts in the body of Christ that are covered (i.e., not seen). But in verse 23, we see that this covering is designed to increase honor to those parts, not diminish it.
b. There are people who serve sacrificially for Christ and His church that we never see. It is good to give honor to whom honor is due. This is the idea behind the volunteer of the month.
c. The result of this is so that there would be no division in the body, and that the members would have the same care for one another (verse 25).
d. Dig deeper application: Do you have a sense of superiority because of your gifts? Or, do you feel marginalized or inferior because you don’t have certain gifts? Whatever the case, each needs to repent, recognizing that the gifts you have are just that: gifts sovereignly distributed to you by God’s grace. Give Him thanks for how He has blessed you so that you can be a blessing to others, and receive blessing from others.
4. Why the emphasis on these gifts? We are following in the footsteps of Jesus. Jesus came to give up His life so we could be connected to Him. It is in union with Christ that our lives are made whole and we experience the fullness of joy.
Church membership is about relationships that are forged in covenant with God and one another, based upon the perfect work of Christ who died for our sins and has united us to Himself and others He has saved by His grace alone through faith in Christ alone. And He has now filled us with His Spirit and given us spiritual gifts. Christ expects us then to commit ourselves to a local expression of His body so that we can use those gifts through faith in Him for the common good of the church, and so that others may use their gifts to help us grow in our relationship with Jesus.