The Body of Christ Part 2
Last week, I had a lot to say and not nearly enough time to say it. I spent a lot of the time talking about not being jealous of one another when what i really wanted to talk about is how much we need each other. It turned out that this was exactly what was needed that day. Praise be to the hand of providence. Now let's talk about needing each other.
A porcupine and a skunk live next door to one another in a large, green forest. Each was convinced that he was invulnerable. The porcupine, protected by his quills, felt that he needed no one. The skunk, with his powerful musk, also believed he was immune to attack. The two were polite to each other, but otherwise kept to themselves. One day, the porcupine was attacked by a coyote. The coyote had flipped the porcupine onto his back and was about to attack his unprotected belly. Seeing his neighbor in peril, the skunk rushed in and sprayed the coyote, sending him scurrying off in search of some way to escape the horrible stink. Two days later, the skunk was attacked by an owl. As everyone knows, owls don't mind the scent of skunk. Returning the favor the skunk had done him, the porcupine threw himself at the owl, driving it away in a flurry of pained and angry hoots. Today, one seldom sees the porcupine and the skunk apart.
Last week, I talked about how every one of us is different, with different gifts, different abilities, a different purpose and different blessings. The focus was on how it's pointless for us to be jealous of one another. But the main reason we don't need to be jealous of one another is because we are part of the same whole. We are meant to work together.
Who here is familiar with the Terrytoon series "The Mighty Heroes"? The Mighty Heroes consisted of five super-powered heroes. There was Strong-Man, Cukoo-Man, Rope-Man, Tornado-Man and Diaper-Man. the cartoons always followed the same formula. The heroes would try to take on the villains working as five individuals. Invariably, they'd get in each other's way and usually ended up tangled in Rope-Man. The villain would place them into a death-trap, from which they'd make a miraculous escape. They would then beat the bad guys by working as a team and using their powers in tandem.
Now this is a very dramatic example, but the truth that it illustrates is plain to see. We are stronger together than we are apart. Just take this group here as an example. At one time, we were scattered. We were Christian furries, out there doing our best for the master, not having a great deal of luck in most cases. In my own experience, my stand for Christ was usually not well appreciated and openly mocked. I had few real friends. Today, the christian furries of the internet have gathered together to form a community. Now, I can come here and talk with friends any time I please. Instead of ridicule or disdain, I find comfort. We are able to learn more from one another than we could alone. We support one another when times are tough with words of encouragement, advice and empathy. We support charity work as one could not do alone. People come to us to hear the gospel where before the gospel was not welcome.
One Christian trying to serve the Lord on his own, without the benefit of fellowship, is like a hermit surviving on his own out in the wilderness. He feeds himself, he works for himself, he makes his own goods, he sews his own clothes, he hunts his own meat. He seeks nothing from anyone and gives nothing back. Ultimately, he's useless. His existence benefits no one. One could argue that he benefits himself. Okay, fine. Is that an option for the Christian? What are we here for? We are here to preach the gospel (Mark 16:15), to do the work of an evangelist (1 Timothy 4:5). We are here as Christ's ambassadors to the world. If it were not so, there would be no reason for Him not to simply snatch us right up to Heaven. We're here to work, and to work, we must be part of a team.
Have you ever been in a store where every employee was working for himself? Such a business will not remain in operation long. Imagine a radio station where everyone just sat around playing their own music. It would never work! A radio station needs DJ's to play the music, each one in his own shift. It needs a buyer or scout to go out and get new music. It needs a programming director to decide when the music gets played. It needs a maintanance man to make sure the equipment is in working order. It needs an executive to pay bills and dole out salaries. It needs someone to get out there and sells commercial time. It needs a janitor to clean up after the DJ's. If there is a news program, it needs a newsman. It also needs a boss to coordinate everyone else and make sure everyone is working together smoothly and harmoniously. Without all these other people working in tandem, a DJ is just a guy listening to records.
A Christian who is trying to do things on his own and sees no need for the support of a church is not much better off. Let's say he's out there trying to follow the great commission. Okay. He's going to be much less effective without a few friends on his side. The first thing he's going to need is someone to check his theology and make sure it's all correct. He'll need a teacher to set him straight where he IS in error. It would be helpful to have a front man to find those who need the gospel and bring them together. He should also have an armorbearer to cover his back and make sure he's well-equipped. He could also use an encourager when times get tough. He needs a worship leader to help Him stay in concert with the Lord whom he represents. He needs a pastor to guide him. The list goes on and on.
We are all vital parts of the church, important to the body and to every other individual. we all have a role to play, whether we are voting members of the church or not. Some of us are called to hold official positions. Some are pastors, deacons, worship leaders or ushers. Others have unofficial jobs which are no less integral. The encourager. The teacher. The peacemaker. The host. The organizer. Each of these is vital, and each of you has one such role to fill. I can't always say what they are, but every Christian here, voting member or not, has a purpose assigned them by God to benefit everyone.
But most important of all is the simple fact that we are people. God is love, and we are created in the image of God. That means that we have two very basic needs. We must love and be loved. We have God to love and to love us. That will always be true. Yet God knows that we need more. Some disagree with me on this. They say that God's love is all-sufficient. But consider this: God had His own love in the beginning. Each person of the Godhead loved the others, yet He still wanted to create a race of people to be His friends. God also saw that Adam needed a companion other than Himself. God wants people to love. Because we were created in His image, we also need people to love. God is good, but we need the love of others as well. That divine spark of God's nature within us creates in us a need for one another. We need each other because we need to fulfill that Godlike compulsion to love and be loved.
So consider that by being part of a church body, you're not simply being served, but you are providing a valuable service by letting others love you.
For this week's challenge, I think the author of hebrews has written it better than I could.
Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Today's reading: 1 Corinthians 12
12:1 Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant.
2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols.
3 Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus be cursed," and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.
6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.
7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
8 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit,
9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit,
10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.
11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.
13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.
15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.
16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.
17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?
18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.
19 If they were all one part, where would the body be?
20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!"
22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,
23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,
24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it,
25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.
26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.
29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?
30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I unto you a more excellent way.