"One Body, Many Parts"

Today is Pentecost Sunday, the day we celebrate the birth of the church. It's a time to come together as the church to claim and proclaim the mind-blowing, heart warming, life-changing power of God.

In our Epistle lesson today Paul was concerned about the body of Christ and their movement away from oneness in Christ. This prompted his letter to the Corinthians.

In the portion of his letter read this morning Paul compares the church at Corinth, the body of Christ, to a human body to convey to the Corinthians how as Christian brothers and sisters they are to act towards one another.

Paul's concern was the lack of unity in the body of believers because of pride, persecution, broken relationships, hurt feelings, and so on.

He uses the analogy of the human body to explain that each part of the body has a specific function, and that function is necessary to the body as a whole. This is true in the human body as well as the church body.

In his letter Paul also uses the analogy of the human body to emphasize the importance of each church member. If a seemingly insignificant part of the human body is taken away, the whole body becomes less effective. The same is true of the body of Christ as well.

The parts of the body are different from one another for a purpose, but in their differences they must work together for the good of the whole. If we think that we as individuals, because of our gifting by God, are more important than someone else, then this is an expression of spiritual pride and is wrong.

We should not look down on those who seem unimportant to us, and we should not be jealous of others who seem to have more impressive gifts then we think we do. Instead we should focus on the gifts we do have, develop them, and discern how God would want us to use them as part of the whole body.

We should also recognize the gifts others have, regardless of what they are, and encourage them to use their gifts. To do any less will render the body less effective.

Can you imagine what would happen if your arm went one way and your leg went another. Well the same is true for us as the body of Christ. If some go one way and others go another, we are not working together efficiently or effectively as the body. This is true within a family, a committee, a particular ministry, the local church, or the church universal.

We have all heard the phrase "running like a well-oiled machine." In a sense when we are all developing and using our gifts together to bring glory to God we are running like a well-oiled machine. This is a goal we as a congregation ought to be striving for.

Paul also warns us about two common errors Christians can unknowingly find themselves getting caught up in: 1. being too proud of our own abilities, thinking our abilities are more important than another's, or conversely 2. thinking we have nothing to give or offer the body of believers.

Both of these errors can lead to unhealthy situations within the individual and the community of believers.

To avoid these common errors we need to not compare ourselves to someone else, we should use our different gifts, together, to share the good news of Jesus Christ, realizing the body of Christ is incomplete if we all are not involved and working together for the sake of Christ. We need to move together hand in hand, and arm in arm.

Our confirmands illustrated this wonderfully this morning when they placed their piece of the puzzle in its place just a few minutes ago. The puzzle was incomplete, it had holes, until they placed their piece in it and made it complete. And although each piece is different it fits nicely into the over all puzzle. Our Confirmands uniqueness and different gifts makes us more complete, more whole.

The church is composed of many types of people from a variety of backgrounds with a multitude of gifts and abilities. It's real easy for these differences to divide people, as was the case in Corinth. Diversity should not be viewed as a threat, but should be celebrated and embraced.

When a person becomes a Christian, the Holy Spirit takes up residence, and he or she is born into God's family regardless of their makeup or gifts. Paul says, "We are all given one Spirit to drink." In this statement he is telling us that the Holy Spirit completely fills us, completely fills our innermost being.

And because we are Spirit-filled, we as members of God's family may have different interests, may have different ways of doing things, and may have different gifts, but despite these wonderful differences we do have a common goal.

And we all can take great comfort in knowing that despite all of our differences, that common goal is faith in Christ and the desire to serve God the best we can. On this essential truth the church finds unity.

All believers are baptized by one Holy Spirit into one body of believers, the church. We don't lose our individual identities, but rather we experience an overriding oneness in Christ. It's very similar to two people getting married. They never lose their individual identities but through the covenant of marriage they do become one, and their lives are changed forever. As our confirmands reaffirmed their baptism this morning and publicly expressed their belief in, and acceptance of Jesus Christ as their savior, we celebrate with them their new life in Christ. And we also, all of us here today, reaffirmed our commitment to the body, the one body that Christ is the head when we stood and recited the Apostles Creed.

But now I want to go one step further. Today is the birthday of the church and I want to challenge us all from this day forward that we work towards being that well-oiled machine, that body that moves together with one purpose, to grow in faith to grow God's kingdom.

To do that we need to be one. I would like us to take a couple minutes now in silence to pray, to ask God to help us as individuals and as his church to heal any broken relationships, to provide guidance, to help us step out in love. Pray in the pew, come to the rail. If you'd like me to pray for you I'd be happy to. If you feel led to seek someone out in the congregation to offer an apology to, to say a kind word to, or to just offer a comforting hug, I encourage you to do that now.

This isn't a time of fellowship this is a time to acknowledge that we aren't perfect. This is a time to become one in Christ. This is a time to ask the Holy Spirit to fill you until you can drink no more. After time of prayer. God of wind, word, and fire we bless your name this day for sending the light and strength of your Holy Spirit. Help us to move together as one body. Rid us of those things that get in the way those things that prevent us from doing your will. We give you thanks for all the gifts, great and small, that you have poured out upon each of us here.

Accept us with our gifts to be living praise and witness to your love throughout all the earth; through Jesus Christ, who lives with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.


Read other messages by Pastor Wade