So, how do you feel about your body? Strange question isn’t it? Most of us would rather not think about our bodies and if we do we probably don’t think very complementary things. It’s too fat or too skinny, too short or too tall. Bumpy, lumpy or just plain ugly kind of like the guy who was so ugly when he was a kid that his parents took him everywhere they went so they wouldn’t have to kiss him good bye. At least that’s the way we think about it.
But is that fair? Over the next six weeks I want to focus on our bodies. And you might have assumed that knowing the title of this series is “Health Check” and our focus is 3 John 1:2 Dear friend, I am praying that all is well with you and that your body is as healthy as I know your soul is.
There are times that we try to separate our bodies and our souls but in John’s letter he ties them together, they are both part of the package. It was the heresy of the Gnostics that said the body was evil and simply an imperfect prison for our souls.
Instead we need to view our bodies as a gift from God, that’s why Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12:27 Now all of you together are Christ’s body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.
What a statement. You, you are the Body of Christ.
Pretty awesome isn’t it? Look around you; each one of you makes up a part of the body of Christ. As Paul reached out to find a simile to adequately describe the church of Jesus Christ the one he came back to time and time again was the comparison between the church and a body.
In Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians and Colossians Paul makes over 30 references to the body of Christ. Those of us who are familiar with the Bible tend to skip over things like that without really taking the time to think about it. We all know what a body is, after all each one of us occupies one every day, but do we really take the time to look at these vessels that we reside in and see where the similarities are between this which is flesh and blood and the church of Christ?
The first thing we need to recognize is that the analogy of the body applies to two definitions of the church. Yes it does refer to the church universal. That is the great all encompassing group of Christians throughout the world who call themselves by so many different names. So Cornerstone Wesleyan Church is part of the same body as the Rock Church, Temple Baptist, Emmanuel Bapist, Hills Christian Life Centre in Sydney Australia and Makena Wesleyan Church in Sierra Leone.
However, the local church, Cornerstone Wesleyan Church also needs to be viewed as the body of Christ. But why? Why did the Apostle Paul chose to use something as imperfect as our material body to illustrate something as mystical as the church of Jesus Christ?
William Barclay sates “There is an “I” a personality which gives unity to the many and varying parts of the body” This is a hand and this is a hand and that’s a foot and there’s another foot and here’s a head and they’re all separate, but “I” Denn brings unity to make all of those things part of my body.
Barclay goes on to say that what “I” is to the body, what Christ is to the church, it is in Him that all the diverse parts find their unity. Alone you are just a Mike, a Heather, an Angela, a Jim , a Matthew. But add Jesus Christ and you become a body. Christ is no longer in the world, he no longer has a physical body and so if he wants a child taught in Junior Church then he needs someone to teach. If He wants someone touched in compassion then He needs to use our compassion and if he needs to cry then He needs our tears.
And so we are His body, but the question remains what is his body? 1 Corinthians 12:12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up only one body. So it is with the body of Christ.
1) We have something in common. Each part of your body has something in common and that something is you! Your leg doesn’t belong to one person and your arm to somebody else. This is Mike’s arm and Jason’s leg.
Instead each individual part of the body has “you” in common, you are the common denominator that ties everything together. In the same way the church of the body of Christ has a common focal point and that is Jesus Christ. Recognize that the church doesn’t belong to everyone here. If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as Saviour then you are not a part of the body of Jesus Christ. The very word “Church” in the original Greek was “Ek-Klay-See-Ah” which means “Called out ones”. From that point of view we realize that just because you attend a church doesn’t make you a part of the Church. Just because you go watch a hockey game doesn’t make you a hockey player. Just because you go into a garage doesn’t make you a car, go into a big garage become a big car, go into a little garage become a little car. If a cat had kittens in the oven they wouldn’t be cookies. Would they?
And so in the same breath just because you attend a Christian church doesn’t necessarily make you a Christian and only Christians truly belong to the body of Christ. So if it isn’t church going that the various parts of the body have in common, and if going to church doesn’t necessarily make you part of the body how do we achieve it? Good question.
Paul gives us the answer in the opening lines of this letter
1 Corinthians 1:2 I am writing to God’s church in Corinth,
(that’s the primary address, now he narrows it down a little bit) to you who have been called by God to be his own holy people. (which simply means those set apart for holy use) . He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as he did for all people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours. That is who is part of the body. And the Bible tells us that the path to becoming a Christian is relatively uncomplicated. 1) Confess your sins 2) Repent or say you’re sorry 3) Believe in faith that He will forgive your sins.
1 Corinthians 12:14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part.
2) We are all different. The diversity of the body is something beyond debate. No two parts of the body are identical, not only are your hands and feet different but your left hand and right hand are different. I have a cousin who has one blue eye and one brown eye. And we look at our bodies and we marvel at the God who has created this phenomenal piece of equipment.
We have ears that hear, eyes that see and feet that walk. And none of us object to that. When was the last time you said, “Boy I wish I could see with my toes, or smell with my ears” Nor do we say, “I wish I was a big foot or a very large eye.” Diversity isn’t just an accidental attribute of the body it’s all part of the divine nature that designed you. And yet all too often we try to make every member of the body of Christ identical.
We even get to the point that instead of viewing our local church as the body of Christ we view it as only one member of the body of Christ. If we carry that to the extreme then we end up with churches that instead of being bodies are just collections of the same body part. And so in churches that are very caught up in social concerns we’d see row after row of bleeding hearts. And churches that are focused on evangelism
would be full of beautiful feet. In churches where worship is the primary focus there would be pews full of uplifted hands. And of course if we looked into the churches where the visible gifts are prominent we’d see row upon row of tongues.
And that isn’t’ a body is it? I mean a body isn’t made up of a whole bunch of tongues, or feet, or hands, or eyes or ears but instead it’s made up of a combination of each of the parts of the body, one of this, a couple of these and some of those. You see even though God insists on unity he complicates the matter by also insisting on diversity.
God didn’t make us identical at the first birth and I don’t think he intended to make us identical at the second birth. To listen to some people all Christians ought to look alike, dress alike, think alike, have the same haircut, read the same translation of the Bible, enjoy the same type of music and raise their children the same way.
In other words those people think that all Christians ought to do things one way, and you know what way that is don’t you? That’s right their way. But let’s just stop and think about it for a minute and let’s be honest, do you really think that we need another you? We certainly don’t need another me. Amen.
So then not only are we all the same and not only are we all different, but we are all essential to the well-being of the body. Paul personifies the parts of the body his letter to the Corinthians and all the various parts of the body get together and have a grip session. 1 Corinthians 12:15-17 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. 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? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?
In the church we do the same thing, someone says “Because I can’t preach like Denn I’m not a part of the body, and because I can’t sing like Jason I’m not part of the body or because I can’t play piano like Eileen I’m not part of the body.” But we don’t just need preachers anymore then we just need soloists. When you think about it we need teachers and we need prayer partners, and we need people with big hearts to love and with long arms to hug.
It’s kind of interesting to note that the foot compares itself with the hand and not the eye. And so we become prone to envy those who surpass us a little, instead of those who are obviously in another class altogether. And because of that I would be more likely to contrast my preaching to Lennett Anderson then to Billy Graham. And I have found that vocalists usually are envious of another singer in their own local church rather than Taylor Swift or Nelly, who are obviously in a completely different class.
Paul is very adamant that each of us in our diversity plays a vital part in the body of Christ. After all if you were just like me, we wouldn’t need one of us, would we?
1 Corinthians 12:20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body.
3) We Need To Be Heading In the Same Direction And so we as face this paradox of being so dramatically different, we see the marvellous problem which confronts the church of Jesus Christ and that is how to preserve our diversity well maintaining our unity.
It would be relatively easy for us all to be different; most of us are quite different as is. And I’m sure that if we really wanted to and if we tried really hard that we could be fairly united. But to be different and united at the same time, well that seems to pose a difficulty that we’re unable to overcome.
But if we look at the original analogy we see that this isn’t just possible with our physical bodies but essential. I can be scratching my head with my hand, walking across the floor with my feet, seeing with my eyes, hearing with my ears and smelling with my nose all at the same time. The secret to keeping the Body of Jesus Christ that we know as Cornerstone Wesleyan Church on the right path is that we must be seeking the same goal. And hopefully that goal is to reach people and introduce them to Jesus.
If your left foot wanted to go one place and your right foot wanted to go another place you’d be in a real predicament, wouldn’t you. But we say I’m going to walk over there and the instructions leave our brain, travel through the central nervous system causing each of the required body parts to work as required to take us on that trip.
In the same way the church determines the direction that God wants us to go and each of us as a part of this particular body move in unison toward that goal. Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work in theory.
The year was 1994, it was the State of Origin, not to be confused with the state of Oregon. The state of Origin is considered to be the best Rugby tournament in the world, each year for a best of three series professional rugby players in Australia return to the state where they began their professional careers. Either New South Wales or Queensland, the score is 12 to 10 for NSW and there is one minute left in the game, the first minute of the video is just for fun, but watch what carefully when the music ends. (Video) I do not know how many times I have watched that play and still marvel at the team work that went into it.
If we are going to achieve our goals as a church then we are going to have to play together, and that goal better be to share Christ with a lost community and to reach out and love people with the love of Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:25-26 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.
4) When One Part Of The Body Hurts, The Whole Body Hurts.
One of the biggest problems in some churches is that they just don’t care about one another. May I again draw your attention to the core values of Cornerstone Wesleyan Church, these are those things that during the planning stages of Cornerstone we said these are the non negotiable, 5) Cornerstone Wesleyan Church is committed to showing Christ’s love to those who attend in practical and tangible ways. We need to be there for each other people. We need to care about one another. Some are easy, providing meals to a family for a week after a baby is born, that’s an easy one, a no brainer. Some are a little tougher, when someone has a terminal illness being there for them and their family. Or when a couple is going through a divorce, how can we be of help then? We’d better figure it out.
Sometimes I think that we are so focused on heaven that we lose sight of those around us. When someone stumbles we need to stoop over and help them up not scramble over them in an effort to get to heaven. Sometimes Christians act as if sin is contagious and instead of trying to restore a brother or sister who has fallen in sin we avoid them as if they had the plague. We may not amputate a wounded member of our church family, but if we don’t administer first aid and just ignore it, in time it will die and fall off.
This is not survivor, we are not supposed to vote people off the island.
What happens when a part of your physical body gets hurt? If you hit your thumb with a hammer what happens? Well actually several things happen all at once. Your mind registers pain, tears come to your eyes, you grab said thumb with your other hand and you commence to jump up and down while words rush forth from your mouth. The nature of those words being entirely dependent on your present spiritual condition.
What happened? Even though it was just one very small, very insignificant part of your body that was hurt, many other parts of your body became involved in an attempt to lessen the pain. And so when one part of the body of Christ hurts it is each of your responsibility as additional parts of the same body to help lessen the pain.
It may be hurt that comes with the death of a loved one, divorce, a lost job, your children or betrayal. It may be that they have given into temptation and need to be loving restored to the body. The responsibility lies not only with the pastor, or with the Leadership Team, or with the person next to you it lies with you.
So where you at? so the question has to be what role will you play? What member of the body will you become? What function will you perform? How will you help to make the body what it ought to be?