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One Body… Many Parts

Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church

(4/7) Good to worship with you all this morning. It is such a blessing to be able to come together as one body isn’t it. You know next week we will have been meeting in this building for 6 months. It has been amazing seeing how everyone has just pulled together and we have made this unified effort to get this building in the condition it is today. You all are incredible. You deserve some recognition.

And today we’ll be in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 12, and beginning at verse 12 today.

This week, God by the Holy Spirit is going to lay down some foundational principles of our unity, diversity, and community. This is how we do life together as the church. And so, as we begin I want to put this out there… the church is not just a building, it’s not just a place, it’s not an event, but it really and truly is, in its essence, people living their life together with Jesus at the center. It’s Jesus there, as Lord, God, and Savior. He’s the one who is connecting various people together… He’s the one changing lives.. and He is the one working through each of us, so that we’re blessed and so that more people get to meet him.

And so, when we speak of church, we’re speaking of a community of people doing life together around the person and the work of Jesus as revealed in the Bible. We are unified around the Gospel… We are coming together with one mind… and that is why from time to time we have what we call a membership class. Here’s how we do it. We gather together. I share our dream and vision. I tell you what we believe and how Christ’s Community Church is organized. We try and help you figure out where you should participate in this church body. We discuss your gifts, talents, abilities, passions and skills.

Now in the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing about spiritual gifts, to help you identify how God has knit you together to do ministry, how we can plug you in… to find you a good place to do the things that God has gifted you to do. And we need you and you need us and we all need each other and were all in this thing together, one body… many parts. So I am thinking we need a membership class soon. Who is ready to be part of that? Maybe we could do a Sunday afternoon at 12:30? What would work out best for you? Let’s get something on the calendar.

And so, today as we get into the Word of God, these 3 principles… Unity, Diversity, and Community are going to be foundational for our church. So we’ll start here in Chapter 12, and verse 12 of 1 Corinthians I want to share with you what God has been breathing into me.

1 Corinthians 12:12-26

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.


1. Celebrating Unity

The first principle that is foundational for any church, for all time, is this principle of unity. That God intends for his people and churches to be unified… and I know that some of you have come from churches where unity was not the norm… there were different groups… and different agendas... but unity is so important among God’s people that Jesus prayed for it (John 17:20-21). And here Paul speaks specifically of how that kind of unity can be obtained.

Unity is obtained through the Holy Spirit. Look at verse 12 again, "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. 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."

Paul uses the analogy of the body. Think about your body and what a miracle it is. The psalmist said, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…" (Psalms 139:14). The human body is so amazing… so many different parts… so many systems in your body that work together 24/7… and yet sometimes we sort of miss the miracle of the little things that we do in life. We overlook the wonder of how all these different systems, and all these parts, work together for a singular purpose.

And Paul says so it is with the church. When it is functioning properly, it’s supposed to be like a body. So everybody in the church… every person in the church… is part of the body of Christ. We all have something important to do. We are all connected to each other. Everybody’s doing their part… working together for one purpose... and that one thing is bringing the love of Jesus to Emmitsburg and beyond.

And so the question is, "How do we obtain this unity?" And Paul tells us that actually it’s something that God does through the Holy Spirit. He says that all who are Christians have been baptized by the Holy Spirit. And this isn’t referring to water baptism, it’s referring to that moment when the Holy Spirit came into your life and all of a sudden, your mind opens and you understood that Jesus was God… that he died for your own personal sins… that he rose again in love for you... and the moment that all of that clicked in your mind… the moment that connected… your heart was changed. And you found yourself loving Jesus like never before.

Paul says, that’s the Holy Spirit… the Spirit of the Living God changing you from the inside out. Jeremiah says he’s taking out my heart of stone, giving me a heart of flesh. The Holy Spirit is taking out my resistance to God and giving me a desire to love, to obey, and to serve God. And that’s being baptized by one Spirit into one body… that’s where the Holy Spirit comes into a person and transforms them from the inside out… empowering them to live a new life… and gifting them to do ministry in service to Jesus Christ. So, this unity is the natural out flowing of people who are led by the Holy Spirit.

2. Strengthened in Diversity

But in spite of our unity, we still maintain our diversity, because unity is not uniformity.

We love one another, we are unified, singular in mind and purpose and identity… but diverse in community. What this means, is that to be part of the body of Christ, doesn’t mean you have to look like the person next to you. To be a Christian means what… that you love Jesus, you hate sin, you read your Bible, you pray… and it’s those kinds of things that are consistent… and it’s those kind of things that we have unity around… but there’s also a great deal of diversity.

In our church there are different kinds of people, right? I mean just look next to you… there’s great diversity. And here’s what the Bible says in verse 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. 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" (1 Corinthians 12:15-16). Just because you’re different doesn’t mean your not part of the body. Within the church, there is diversity… Black, white, young, old, rich, poor, hip hop, thrashers, highly educated, those that are less, people who are well off, people who are living on Ramen Noodles… there’s all kinds of people. And yet the Bible reminds us of one thing.

Jesus said, "All men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:35).

So you walk into a church and you see all these different people and it’s like what’s going on here? And the answer is Jesus. I love Jesus, you love Jesus, and that’s all that matters. You see, Jesus is bigger than our race, our income, our gender, our education, and our life experience. Jesus is big enough to love the whole world… Jesus is big enough to change each one individually… and Jesus is big enough to bring us together, as one very diverse, loving, and unified family.

Now I’m not talking about personal preferences and distinctions that are sin. I’m just talking about people who do life a little different… who have different perspectives… different backgrounds and different tastes. When we repent of our sin… when Jesus is the center of our community, as we pull together around Jesus, we actually grow closer to one another. So, if you’re walking toward Jesus and I’m walking toward Jesus, we’re unified because we’re getting closer together… our focal point is the same!

So in the church there’s great diversity. There are people working in children’s ministry, in sound, and cleaning. There are people teaching classes, there are ushers and greeters, people helping with finances and administration, a great number of people doing different things. And so Paul’s point is that the church is supposed to utilize many different people, with many different gifts, for the purpose of building a great church to love and serve as many people as possible in community.

3. Connected in Community

So God’s desire is that we celebrate in unity, that we are strengthened in our diversity, and that we are connected in community. We need each other. It’s not like the single people over here, the married people over here, and the teens over here, and the unemployed over here. Everybody needs everybody and everybody is important. Paul writes in verse 18, "But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body."

The body is connected in community… this is what Paul’s saying. That whatever your age, your race, or life experience… the more diverse we are… the more we work together… the stronger we’ll be… the more ministry we will be able to do… loving, serving, and bringing the truth of the gospel to our community.

In other words, God brought you here to become involved, to get connected, plugged in at Christ’s Community Church. And so it’s like the church is this giant puzzle and we’re all pieces. We are all parts of God’s puzzle, there are holes, missing pieces, and you’re here to fill them. Some of you might walk in and you’re blessed, but you see a hole, you see a need, and an opportunity for ministry. So you have two choices. You can complain or you can help.

So my question to you is this, "Do you feel connected to this church body? Or are you just a free floating toe? Or a free floating mouth? You know it’s a whole lot easier to stand back and critique a church rather than picking up a broom, teaching a class, washing dishes, and being part of the body. What God wants you to know about the body, is that he wants you to be plugged in, connected in community, recognizing that you’re that missing piece… part of the church… part of the family… part of the Body of Christ.

I look forward to discovering where you fit and seeing what gifts God is bringing into Christ’s Community. Yet some of you are still wondering why you’re here… and what is your role? Well we are going to pray about that in a minute, but let me assure you that first and foremost you are here to meet Jesus. That’s why we’re here. You’re here because God wants you to be part of His body.

God wants you to benefit from his body. And he wants you to meet Jesus... to know that Jesus Christ is God, that he lived without sin, that he died for you, that he loves you, that he rose, he’s alive, and well today, and that if you pray to him, he’ll hear you. And if you confess your sin to him, he will forgive you. And if you invite the Holy Spirit He’ll come and live inside of you and he will empower you to live an entirely different life. A new life, patterned after the life of Jesus. And he wants to connect you to this church family, so we can love you, care for you, pray for you, and walk with you on this journey called life.

That’s why he brought you here. He brought you here to be a part of what he’s doing. So I want you to get plugged in, connected. If you haven’t been serving and giving I’d like to see you being used of God in a great way. I hope today that you’re encouraged. There are so many things we could be doing together. This is amazing.

Let’s take some time in prayer… ask the Holy Spirit to tell you where it is that you’re supposed to plug in and participate. Then we’re going to celebrate communion, remembering the body and blood of Jesus, because it’s all about Jesus. Let’s just think about Jesus, meditate on Jesus, praise Jesus for a moment.

Read part 2

Read past sermons by Pastor John Talcott

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