Offer Them Christ
The Weblog Of J.F. Howard

There Is Health In Connection

 1 Corinthians 12:12-21, 25-27

12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. 14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 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. 16 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? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? 18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you”… 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. 27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.

            I want to invite you to take an imaginary walk with me around Lake Junaluska. Have you ever been there? If not, follow along with me in your imagination.

            You and I meet up for our walk in front of the Stuart Auditorium. This is the historic location of many annual conference meetings, jurisdictional conferences, worship services, and powerful messages. From there we head for the Rose Walk, a half a mile stretch around the lake with beautiful variations of roses on our right, and Lake Junaluska on our left. At the end of the Rose Walk we come to the Kern Youth Center and the coffee shop next to it. Just beyond there we arrive at the Lake Junaluska swimming pool. It is closed this time of year. The water in the pool is spring fed. That means it is cold every day of the year, but in January in the mountains, it is frigid!

            Right about the time we get to the entrance of the pool, we notice that the gate is open, as if someone had tried to get and go over to the pool. Right then we hear a splash and a cry for help. When we stop and look in the gate we see that a young child has gone over to the side of the pool, and gotten to close to the edge. He lost his footing and fallen into the cold, icy water. Apparently he can’t swim. Together, you and I run to the side of the pool, kneel down, and pull the child safely out of the freezing waters. The child’s life has been saved.

            Now imagine how silly it would if we started arguing over which member of our body was most important in saving that child’s life. Was it the ears that first heard the child’s cry for help? Was it the eyes that located the child in the cold waters of the swimming pool? Was it the feet that ran to the side of the pool? Was it the arms that pulled the child to safety?

            Which was most important?

            They were all important! They each performed a different role, but they all met a specific need. If any of the members of the body had not done the right job at the right time…the child’s life would not have been saved.

            A couple of thoughts come to mind from our imaginary walk around Lake Junaluska. The first is the most important…the mission of the church is to save lives. From beginning to end, the message of the Bible is that God offers salvation to a dying world. The church is God’s chosen means for bringing salvation to dying people. The church is never closer to its purpose than when we are rescuing the perishing.

            The second thought that comes to mind from our imaginary walk around Lake Junaluska is how important every member of the body really is, if we are going save people!

            The only way our church will ever effective in doing what God has created and called us for, is if we all use the gifts and talents God has given us.

            When we choose to sit on the sidelines, or refuse to serve with the gifts we have…do you ever wonder if lives are lost?

            What would have happened to the drowning child if our bodies had only one missing part?

            What if we were walking around the lake without the ability to see? Could we have found the drowning child if we were blind?

            What if we were deaf? Could we have heard the drowning child’s cries for help?

            What if we were unable to walk? Could we have gotten to the pool in time?

            What if our arms were broken and set in casts? Could we have pulled the child to safety?

            The Bible refers to the Church as the Body of Christ, and each of us are parts of that body.

            When we use our spiritual gifs together in unity, we become healthy and effective Bodies of Christ in this world.

            But something else happens, when we use our spiritual gifts in the mission of the church, we experience a depth of life and a connection to God and other people that we do not experience anywhere else.

            I want to offer a simple principle that will help you experience a greater level of fulfillment in your life, and make our church stronger at the same time.

            God’s plan for you to be most fully human, is when we are most fully part of the Body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:27

All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.

            I like to tell people who are considering joining Ardmore United Methodist Church to take this test to know if this is the church for them.

            I tell them they can know that they have found the right church home when they get up on a Sunday morning, look out the window and see a cold, dark, rainy day and say, “I’ve got to go to church today…I need them!”

And then a second thought that comes to their minds on that cold, dark, rainy day: “I’ve got to go to church today…they need me!”

            That’s the role of spiritual gifts in the life of the church…they remind us that we have something to offer the church that the church can’t do without, and the church has something for us, that we can’t do without.

            “I need them as much as they need me!”

            Life and faith are all about connection. We are most human when we are connected to God through faith in Jesus Christ. God’s plan for our lives includes bring connected to other people through the Church, the Body of Jesus Christ on earth. The more connected we are, the more healthy we are.

            God did not creat us to live in isolation. Relations are not easy. They take time, effort, and personal investment to keep them healthy, but without them we become sick, and just die.

            The message of the Bible is all about connection. Life is all about relationship.

            In the church, spiritual gifts are the ways we connect with each other. Each of us have different gifts that God intends to fit tighter into a perfectly function, healthy body. Together we have a deeper, more healthy faith. Together we accomplish greater success than we would if we were on our own.

            There is more to life than just what our individual lives experience and accomplish.

            We were created for more than just what we achieve on our own.

            By ourselves we can accomplish much…but in union with others, we can accomplish more!

            To be the people we were created to be, and to do the things we were created to do…we need each other!

A man is on a boat. He is not alone, but acts as if he were. One night, without warning, he suddenly begins to cut a hole under his seat.

            The other people on the boat begin to shout at him: “What on earth are you doing? Have you gone mad? Do you want to sink us all? Are you trying to destroy us?”

            Calmly, the man answers: “I don’t understand what you want. What I’m doing is none of your business. I paid my way. I’m not cutting under your seat. Leave me alone!”

            What the man will not admit, but what you and I cannot forget, is that all of us are in the same boat.

            God has designed us to be in relationship…first with God, through Jesus Christ…then in relationship with each other…through our diverse spiritual gifts.

            There is an old parable tells us the story of some discontented members of a body. The eyes, ears, hands, and feet complained that the stomach took all the food and did nothing in return. The grouchy members of the body agreed to deny the stomach any more meals. Soon however, these disgruntled parts of the body became weak and began to starve. Then they recognized that the stomach was essential for their well-being and they restored their link with the stomach.  Immediately, the stomach began to return nourishment to the eyes, ears, hands, and feet. Never again did the other members of the body complain against the stomach.”

            The point of that old story is that we are all stronger and more healthy when we are connected with each other.

            The Church, the Body of Christ, needs what you have to offer…the church will be more healthy if you are a part of it.

            The opposite is also true…you will be more healthy, if you are a part of the church, the Body of Christ on earth.

            Listen to this story:

The Animals’ School

            Once upon a time, right after creation, all the animals formed a school. They established a well-rounded curriculum of swimming, running, climbing, and flying. All the animals were required to take all the courses.

            The duck excelled at swimming, In fact, he was better than the instructor! But he only made passing grades in climbing and was very poor in running. He was so slow, he had to stay after school to practice running. This caused his webbed feet to become so badly worn he became only average in swimming. But average was quite acceptable, so no one ever worried about it…except the duck.

            The rabbit was top of her class at running. But after a while, she developed a twitch in her leg from all the time she spent in the water trying to improve her swimming.

            The squirrel was a peak performer climbing, but was constantly frustrated in flying class. His body became so worn from all the hard landing he did not do too well in climbing and ended up being pretty poor in running.

            The eagle was a continual problem student. She was severely disciplined for her lack of cooperation. In climbing class, she would always beat every else to the top of the tree, but insisted on using her own way to get there.

            Each of the animals had a particular design. When they did what they were designed to do, they excelled. When they tried to operate outside their area of expertise, they were not nearly as effective.

            Can ducks run? Sure they can! Is that what they do best? No!

            Given the limited time each of us have, doesn’t it make sense to serve where we are best equipped?

            Ducks can run and run hard. But they are slow and get tired quickly.

            People in ministry are like that. Luke a duck out of water, we can serve outside our area of giftedness. We can do it, but it is not what we do best.

            That is why knowing your Spirit Gift is important. It enables you to do your best with enthusiasm and effectiveness.

            God’s plan for you to be most fully human, is when we are most fully part of the Body of Christ.

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