09 Dec Gospel People 08 – We are ONE
1 Corinthians 12:12-26
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 honourable we bestow the greater honour, 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 honour 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 honoured, all rejoice together.
Tonight, I only have one agenda. Just one. I’ll open my card from the very beginning so you don’t have to guess where we are going. It is my desire to see each members of this church to play their part in building this church. I’ll speak more on that later but I want to first recap everything we have learned so far in this series. I want to do “previously in Gospel People series.” In the first part of the series we talked about Independence Day. We talked about the good news of the gospel that all of us were once dead in our trespasses. We were destined for destruction. BUT GOD. God interfered and made us alive together with Christ. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone. This is the beginning of our new life, our Independence Day as Christians. Then we talked about how the gospel gives us a new identity, a new passport. We are no longer primarily defined by our ethnicity but by our new identity in Christ. We are first and foremost Christians. There is no longer any barriers between us as Christians and we should strive to become a multi-cultural church. The message of the gospel unites people from every tribe, nation and tongue and we will strive to be that kind of church. The gospel not only gives us a new passport but it also makes us citizens of the kingdom of God. We are no longer our old self but we are now united with Christ. Union with Christ. Whatever is true about Christ is true about us. Christ’s past is our past and Christ’s future is our future. We become one with Christ. Christ’s death is our death and Christ’s resurrection is our resurrection. It means that we are a brand-new creation. We have the power to say no to sin. All of us were once driven by our sinful desires. But here is the good news for us. If you remember, I used Augustine’s illustration. Sin will call out our name and say, “Yosi, it is I.” But because of our union with Christ, we can look at sin in the face and say, “Sin, I know it is you. But it is not I. The old Yosi is dead. I have a new life. You are no longer my master. Christ is my master. So, I don’t have to listen to you. Astalavista babe!” It does not mean that we are immune to sin. Christian is not one who is sinless but one who is empowered by the gospel to sin less. We are not enslaved by sin. We have a new life and power to resist sin.
Then on the fourth part of the series, we talk about worship, the anthem. The reason we gather here every Sunday is to remind ourselves of the wonderful truth of the gospel. We want our heads to be gripped with the truth of God, our hearts captivated with the beauty of God and our life filled with the praise of God. This is true worship. But we also mentioned that we know what our hearts truly loved by paying attention to our wallet. Your bank statement reveals what your heart truly adores. The gospel not only saves our lives but it also saves our wallets. The gospel gives us a generous heart. A generous heart is one that joyously and proactively seeks ways to give out money for the purpose of God and benefit of others. And then we move on and talk about our values, our culture. As Christians, we are called to be salt and light. I’m not going to list all the 10 observations of what it means to be salt and light but it is sufficient to say that in order to be salt and light, we must be different. If we are not different from the world, then what good are we? As Christians, all of our lives need to show that Christ is our main priority in life. And that lead us to last week sermon. How many of you still remember what we talked about last week? I was initially going to ask you what do you guys remember from each sermon but then I decided not to do it. I do not want to go home tonight and cry in my bed because most of you do not remember anything from the series. But I think it is safe to ask you about last week. I hope you guys remember. So, what did we talked about last week? We talked about our true home, heaven, the kingdom. As Christians, it is very crucial that we remind ourselves of our true home because it is what empowers us to live sacrificially today. And I put it his way. If me and my wife went for sky diving, and she accidentally slip out of the helicopter without her parachute on, it does not matter how much I love her, if I don’t have my parachute on, I am not jumping. But if I have my parachute on, then I might try to be Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible. It is only those who know the hope that they have in heaven who is able to live sacrificially today. That is why we spend the whole sermon talking about the hope we have in heaven last week. Some of you are like, “Really? All I remember is that you mentioned about someone who looks good in bathing suit.” #wrongfocus.
Tonight is the last part of the Gospel People series. I title it, “We are ONE.” It is important for us to understand that in order for us to be all of the above, we desperately need one another. No one can do it alone. Gospel People is not an individual project but a community project. And for us to be the kind of church that lives out the characteristic of Gospel People, we not only desperately need one another, but we also need everyone to play their role. Everyone has a part to play. Let me sum up my whole sermon tonight in one sentence. Every Christian is uniquely gifted to play a role that only they can do in order for the body to function properly. In order for us to function properly as Gospel People, we need every single member to play their role. This is Paul’s main argument in our passage for today. Let me give you the context first. The church in Corinth was a very messy church. If you never read the whole of 1 Corinthians, you should. Let me list you some of the issues the church was facing. Division in church – Some pro Paul and some pro Apollos. Sexual immorality – they tolerated incest, a man sleeps with his mother in law. Lawsuit against fellow believers. Prideful knowledge – they used knowledge to destroy one another rather than build up. And lastly, they fight over importance of spiritual gifts. This last problem is where I want us to zoom in. So, what happened was the people in the church of Corinth began to compare their gifts and roles with one another and it leads them to either think too little of themselves of too highly of themselves. And to these people Paul is saying, “Stop comparing your gifts and start using your gifts.” It is the fact that we are uniquely different from one another that makes us useful for one another. And to explain his point, Paul uses the analogy of human body.
Here is my outline for the sermon. Problem; Solution; Application.
There are two problems that we can see in this passage. And the two problems are the polar opposite of each other. The first problem is the problem of “You don’t need me.” 1 Corinthians 12:14-17 – 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? The first problem is the problem of feeling useless. So what happen in this problem is that they compare their gifts and roles with other people’s gifts and roles, and conclude that because they are different from him or her, they are useless. They are convinced that if they are to disappear, no one would notice they disappear. In fact, they often think that it would be better for the body as a whole if they are not around. They think too little of themselves. So, if we go back to the analogy of the body, they would often position themselves as wisdom teeth. Their presences do not make any difference at all and getting rid of them would be a good thing to avoid pain in the future.
Have you ever meet this kind of people? I meet this kind of people all the time. I consider myself a patient person but this kind of people test my patience lots of times. Let’s call him Bob. So, Bob would come to me and say, “Yos, I am a nobody. I can’t do anything. I am useless. I’m just like a grass that is here today and gone tomorrow. I am so insignificant. You do not need me. I am like a grain of sand in the ocean. If you are the father in the house of God, I am just a chopstick in the drawer. Whether I am around or not it does not make any difference.” And lots of times I’m really tempted to respond, “You know, I think you are right. You are just a chopstick in the house of God and one cares about you.” But I’m a pastor so I can’t do that. What Bob wants from me is actually for me to make him feel important. “No Bob, you are not a chopstick but you are a toilet paper. Life is very difficult without you.” And this is how our cultures build self-esteem. We want to be praise and we want to be told that we are someone important. But that is not how Paul deal with the problem. When a foot thinks that they do not belong to the body, Paul does not say, “Okay then switch your role. From now on you are no longer a foot. You are a hand.” No that is not the way to deal with the problem. What Paul says is that the problem is not with your role but the problem is with your mindset. You are not thinking rightly. What you need is not a new role but what you need is a new understanding of your role.
Another reason that triggers this wrong mindset is we compare our gifts and roles with other people and we want their gifts and roles. So, a hand looks at the nose and say, “I wish I was a nose.” So, let’s go back to Bob. So, if before Bob feels like he is not needed, this time Bob wish he was someone else. Bob comes to RSI and say, “I wish I can lead worship like Kimmy and Sarah. I wish I can preach like Timmy, Edrick and Ellis. I wish can shake hand, smile and laugh like Cathline. I wish I can hosts like Joshua Tie.” Bob looks at the gifts and roles of other people and wishes that he is like them. And Paul says, “Hold on a second. Do you realize what you are saying? If the whole body were an eye, how can you hear? You can’t hear with your eyes.” With another word, Paul is saying that the reason you are useful is because you are different. If you want to be like other people who you are not, then we are going to have a problem. It is your differences that make you important to the body. So, this is the first problem.
The second problem is the problem of “I don’t need you.” 1 Corinthians 12:21-26 – 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 honourable we bestow the greater honour, 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 honour 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 honoured, all rejoice together. This problem is the problem of feeling superior. What happen in this problem is that they compare their gifts and roles with other people’s gifts and roles, and conclude that they are better and more important than the others. They think too highly of themselves. So now Bob looks at his gifts and say, “Ha! Looks at me. I preach almost every single week in RSI. I have the microphone every week. I can interrupt the hosts anytime I want. I can change what I want to preach at any time and everyone else have to adapt to me. I must be very special. Oh wait, I am actually the pastor of RSI. It does not matter if we have ushers or not, as long as I am the pastor of this church, it is all that matters. People come to hear me. I am amazing!” If Bob resembles someone you know, it’s purely coincidental. If the first problem often refers to themselves as the wisdom teeth of the body, this problem often thinks of themselves as the brain or the heart of the body. It is impossible for the body to function without them. They can get by without the help of anyone else.
To these kind of people, Paul is giving the comparison between parts of the body that looks crucial to the parts of the body that is hidden. Although we cannot know for sure, it is very likely that Paul is referring to sexual organs when he mentions part of the body that is less honourable and unpresentable. Paul says, “Hold on a second Bob. To which part of the body do you bestow greater honour and treated with more modesty? To the parts that is presentable to the public? Or to the parts that are unpresentable?” The answer is we bestow greater honour to our sexual organs and treated it with more modesty. Guys, we have no problem being topless in front of people. Especially if you have six packs. You try to find every reason to be topless. But if you are sane, you have problem being pant-less in front of public. Am I right? It is to those part of the body that is unpresentable that we give extra care and attention. Having a role that is more visible to the public does not make you more important and not need those who have unseen role.
The truth is that everyone is equally important. When one member suffers, all suffers together. When one member is honoured, all rejoice together. I learned this the hard way when I dislocated my knee few months ago. I slipped, tried to regain my balance, when suddenly I heard “kreek.” And I shouted, “my knee, my knee.” I pulled up my pant and saw my knee was dislocated. And let me tell you, it was extremely painful. It was the first time I dislocated my knee and I was horrified by what I saw. I wanted to scream and cry so bad. Here is the thing – I can’t. I had to keep my cool. I knew if I panic, it would affect the whole camp. Everyone in the camp would panic. So, I maintained my cool. At first, the pain was kind of bearable. As long as I remain still, the pain was somehow tolerable. For the first 20 minutes. Then it started to get worse. After a while, the pain started to spread all over my body. I started to have a massive headache, then fever. And those one and a half hour of waiting for an ambulance to come became the longest one and a half hour of my life. It was an extremely painful experience. And all of it was caused by one dislocated joint in my knee that seems insignificant and is hidden behind my skin and flesh. You and I know this to be true. If you don’t, just remember it next time you have toothache. If you never have toothache, eat more candies until you do. One thing wrong with your teeth and your whole body suffers. One part of the body is not more important than the other.
So the two problems are we either think too little of our gifts or we think too highly of our gifts. Paul gives us three ways to think rightly about our gifts and roles. 1 Corinthians 12:17-20 – 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. First, God is not creating a monster but a body. Just think about it. Imagine a body of a person where every part of the body was an eye. Would you date him or her? Of course not. It’s not a body but a monster. There would be no body if everybody is the same. The body consists of many different parts. It is your differences in the body that makes a body, a body. With another word, you are useful to the body precisely because you are different from everyone else. If you have your way and you become like someone else, there would be no body; there would be a monster. A body cannot exist without diversity. Each parts of the body is unique and irreplaceable. God has designed each of us to be different so that in our differences we can function together. We are not different by accident but by design. And it is only when we understand that we are different from one another that we can function together as a body.
Second, our gifts is a gift from God. The thing about a gift is that we don’t get to choose what we want. Gift is not necessarily something that you want but something that is given to you. God arranged each member in the body as he chose. We don’t get to choose. God in his sovereign wisdom has given us gifts and roles as he sees fit. For us to say, “I do not like my gifts. I want his or her gifts” is for us to deny the goodness and the wisdom of God. For some of you, you understand that for a body to function properly, then the body needs different parts. You get it. The problem is you do not like your gift. You don’t want the whole body to be the same. You just want you to be different. You just want you to be like someone else. And Paul says that if you are thinking like that, you are actually defying God. You are accusing God of making mistake when he designed you. The truth is, God did not make mistake when he designed you. Whatever gifts and roles that God gave you, it was his decision and not yours. And do not think lightly of it. In order for the whole body to function properly, you are irreplaceable. If you decided to switch off and not play your role, it affects not just you but the whole body. God has designed every part of the body to desperately need one another not only for the health of the body but also to enable the body to operate at full potential.
You are not designed to be me. You are designed to be you. One of the common mistake that I see happening a lot of time is that we try to operate in gifts that is not ours. Every now and then, I meet some people who thinks that they have the gift to teach but they don’t. It is the gifts that they want not the gifts that they are given. Let me just put it out there for you. You can get better at anything by working really hard at it. But it does not mean that it is your gift. You can work super hard at it and only make a very little progress because you are not gifted for it. It does not matter how hard I tried, I won’t make it far as an Instagram blogger. I don’t have the eyes nor the creativity for it. It takes me years of practice to be able to post Instagram like I am today. For some of you, my 5 years of accumulate experience with Instagram post is equal to the first 5 minutes of your Instagram experience. Let me use an illustration that all of you will be able to relate with. Anyone loves to watch the first few episodes of Australian Idol? I know it’s cruel but it is painfully funny. Right? Some of them are so convinced that they are the next Australian superstar. It is their dream and gift to be a singer. But when you hear them sing, you can’t help but think, “Does anyone in their life live love them enough to tell them that they can’t sing? How much his family and friends have to hate them to let them contest for Australian Idol?” I mean, I love Richard. He is part of my family in KM9. But if he tells me that he wants to try out to be the next Worship Leader in RSI, I would slap him in the face and tell him, “You ain’t doing it boy! People are going to make fun of you. Don’t do it. You will ruin the reputation of our KM. I won’t let you. You would not lead people into the presence of God. You would lead them to hell.” “But this is my dream ko, it is my gift.” “No boy, it is not. It might be your dream but it is not your gift. You can’t even carry tune. Go and be a soundman instead!”
I am not saying that you cannot become better at it. If you work really hard, you can get better at anything. But it is also not true that you can be whoever and whatever you want to be. That’s the lie of our culture. The truth is that God has a specific gifts and role for each one of us. Our role is to be faithful and grow in that gifts. We need to stop comparing our gifts and start using our gifts. If God has designed you to be a chopstick, then be the best chopstick in the drawer. Don’t try to be a coffee mug. “But no one sees me if I am just a chopstick.” People may not see you but God does. You may not be praised by people but God will reward you. The point is that you need to play your part. If you do not, then the body can’t function properly.
Third, consider the Gospel. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 – 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. Here is what I know about all of us. Every individual is wired and gifted differently. Every individual is unique. All of us have different experiences in life. But here is what I also know about every Christian. We became Christian through the same Spirit. It is the works of the Holy Spirit that draw us to Christ. It is the Spirit that open our eyes to see our sinfulness and our needs of grace. It is the Spirit that produce faith toward Christ in us. It does not matter who you are, we became Christians through the works of the same Spirit. We are forgiven because of the blood of Christ and we are accepted because of the perfect work of Christ in our behalf. And it is the Holy Spirit that applies this truth to us. It is through the Spirit that we received the spirit of adoption as sons of God. This is our identity. Our identity is not in the gifts of God but our identity is in the fact that we are God’s sons and daughters. We are loved and accepted by God because of the work of Christ alone. But then the Spirit also makes us part of one body – the body of Christ. And this body has many members. And in order for this body to function properly, all the members of the body must do their role. No one is without a role to play. That is why Paul writes earlier in 1 Corinthians 12:7 – To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. The gospel not only gives you a new identity but it also gives you a specific role to play for the common good of the body. So, stop comparing your gifts and start using your gifts. Your gift is given for the good of the body.
First, stop dating the church and commit yourself to one! Remember, that the church is the body of Christ. It is true that every church in the world is part one large body of Christ. But it is also true that every local church is also a body of Christ in itself. In order for the body of the local church called RSI to function properly, we need to know for sure who are the members of this body. So there are few groups of people that I am talking to. First, the church avoider. They are those who believe that Christianity is all about their personal relationship with Jesus. They are the lone ranger Christians. They keep saying that they love Jesus but they hate the church. The church is nothing but bunch of hypocrites. I love you but you need to stop saying that. Jesus calls the church his bride. The church is the bride of Christ. You can’t say you love Jesus and hate the church. Imagine me walking up to Edrick and say, “Drick I really love you but I just can’t stand Ellis. She’s such a hypocrite.” That is not a compliment. That is an insult to Edrick. God also calls the church the body of Christ. Imagine talking to your wife and say, “Honey, I love you. But I really don’t like your body.” You will most definitely get slap for it. Yes, this church has many weaknesses and is filled with hypocrites. But that’s supposed to be a good news for you. Because that means we have room for another one, you. Another group is the church attender. This is the group of people who come to church regularly simply to warm the seat for 1 hour 45 minutes and then go. They are the ninja Christian. The third group is the church hopper. They keep hopping from one church to another based on their convenience. They are in an open relationship with different churches based on what they feel like that particular Sunday. And the last group is the church shoppers. This is the group of people that always try to find the best deal in town. They are forever hunting for the best package deals. “Hmm I like the music in that church but I don’t like the preaching there.” Or, “I like the preaching there but I don’t like the kid’s program.” This group is forever hunting to find the perfect church for them.
Now listen to me carefully. If you are in those groups of people, let me say is as lovingly as I could. “STOP IT. Stop dating the church and commit yourself to one.” You are not doing yourself and all of us favour by consistently dating the church. Especially me as the pastor of this church. Listen to what the author of Hebrews says in Hebrews 13:17 – Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. I love the first part of this verse. If you are members of this church, you are called to obey and submit to me as your pastor. But it does not stop there. This verse also tells me that I am accountable before God to watch over the souls of every single members of this church. It is a heavy responsibility. I am not accountable for members of other churches but this church. But in order for me to know who am I accountable for, I need to know who are the members of this local church. And if you are dating churches, you are not doing yourself and your pastor any favour. And how can we function together as a body if we do not know whether you are part of this body or not? So, stop dating and commit yourself in a local church.
Second, the church needs you. If you are members of this church, then the church needs you to use your gifts. Every member of this church has unique gifts and unique roles and for us to thrive as a body, we need everyone to play their part without exception. We might be able to function without you but we cannot operate at our full potential without you. Do you hear that? It does not matter how insignificant your gifts and roles seems, without you this body cannot function the way it supposed to. Your gifts and your roles are absolutely essential for RSI to flourish. “But Yos, I don’t know what is my gifts.” That is okay. You are in the right place. We will help you discover your gifts. Just start somewhere. My gift is preaching and teaching the Bible. Some of you are like, “Err it’s obvious. Even a blind man can see it.” It is obvious today but what you might not know is how I discover this gift. Before I settled with this gift, I was in all different area of ministry. I started with overhead projector, then choir, flag dance, Sunday school teacher, teenagers’ coordinator, music, worship leading, sound board, equipment and then finally preaching. The only ministry I did not try was ushering because people kept telling me that I was not friendly enough to be an usher. The local church is a safe place for you to discover your gifts. The point is you need to start somewhere. God did not save you for you to remain in the sidelines. He wants you to play your role in the local church. It also does not mean that if you are not serving within the church that you are not playing your role. It is very possible to play your role as part of the body of Christ outside these walls that we called church. God wants you to play your role as members of this body called RSI in your works, schools and communities.
Third, the world needs you. When a church function properly as a body of Christ, the world will take notice. The world will see how every part of the body complement and support one another. People with different gifts and roles serve together for the sake of one name and one name only – Jesus Christ. Christ is the head of the church and the church is his body. When the body function as it should, it gives glory to the head. The glory of God shines through your individual commitment to Christ but the glory of God shines even brighter through a community’s commitment to Christ. We are designed to work together as one body to make the world take notice of Christ. When one person is committed to take the great commission seriously, the effect in the long run is massive. But when the whole church committed to the cause of Christ as a community, the whole city is transformed. That is what I desire to see happen in many years to come. We as a church are committed to make the glory of God known in the world by making disciples of Christ and becoming a multi-cultural church. And for this to happen, I need every single member of RSI to use their gifts and play their role. Every member of RSI is to make disciples of Christ. There are peoples in your life that only you can touch. It is only when we function together as a body that we can operate as we should. The road ahead of us is going to be messy and bloody but it is going to be worth it. RSI, let us move forward together as one body.
- What are the two wrong mindset of the people in the church of Corinth in regards to gifts? Which one are you more prone on?
- What is wrong with wanting to have another people’s gifts?
- We are not different by accident but by design. Explain the implication of this statement in our lives.
- What are the characteristic of Church daters? Explain why church daters are not doing anyone favours.
- Why is it important for every members of the local church to play their specific role?
- How can we discover our gifts? What is the next step that you need to take to discover your gifts and roles in the local church?
- “The glory of God shines brighter through a community’s commitment to Christ.” Explain.