“UnFrankensteining the Body” Sermon at LMPC 1-27-13 on 1 Cor. 12:12-31 by Dr. Ben Sloan
Frankenstein is the story of a scientist who tried to create life out of what is dead, by sewing parts together and shooting electricity through the body. The dead never fully came to life. It was an effort to make one body out of parts that were not designed to work together. It was a monster. Artificial organizations do not last very long usually. The Church, however is a body that is called together by God and not given artificial but real life. We are different parts given life by our maker and drawn together by Him for a purpose. We are different individuals drawn together by the Holy Spirit, like a magnet to an iron pole. What unites us in part is the very fact that we are drawn to the same center-piece. We need to take the artificial life out- and put the Holy Spirit in.
I. MANY PARTS- Our passage says the body is not made up of one part but of many. We are many different parts pulled together by the call of God. In the end the church is not all about an organization or an institution. We organize in part to be good stewards of what God has given us. We organize together in order to work together smoothly. But the organizational part is not so clear in scripture because organizational needs and practices change with culture and climate. For example a small church may only have limited staff, limited options for small groups, and limited space. A larger church may be identified by its opportunities or small groups- that would be us. But in God’s sovereignty He takes many people- with their differences, with their genetic, cultural, political, perspective, even differences in beliefs and draws them together. If all we are as a church is different people thrown into a pot together like different elements thrown into a stew recipe, we may not work. For, as you know, vinegar works great with some recipes and baking soda works great in some recipes, but if you add vinegar and baking soda together in the same recipe you will get bubbling over, a strange taste, and you may even get an explosion. Just having lots of people- like lots of ingredients- doesn’t always work. But I believe we are not called together haphazardly, but in the sovereignty of God by His voice. Think of the chili cookoff coming up. There will be lots of different but good recipes- and you will find the one that is just right for you. Some people love spicy chili, others love chicken chili, others love just mild chili. Each is different in its own way. In other words, each church is a special recipe from God. We are different from our brother and sister churches. We are different from Shandon Presbyterian downtown or Trinity Cathedral or Saxe Gotha or Chapin Presbyterian or Chapin Methodist or Lake Murray Evangelical. I respect them all in different ways- for when we get to heaven we will not have separate rooms for each church. But on this side of heaven God places us in churches as a particular body of Christ almost like He places us in families. 12:18 says, “But God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” I believe this is saying, God has called us to a particular body at a particular time, for a particular reason. It may be to be a kind of missionary of your viewpoint but it may also be to learn; It may be to help but it may also be to be helped; it may be to find a small group to strengthen or it may be to be strengthened by a small group. But I believe God places us in churches in a wider sense like He places us in families- for our protection, for our nurture, for our growth, for our contribution to others, and for the cause of love, and for God’s glory.
II. ONE FAMILY- Now families are interesting. There is a lot of love in families, but there is always a lot of tension. Families, especially in our day are under a lot of pressure- partly because of differing faiths, values, and dreams. So churches are also under a lot of pressure in our day. Yet, scripture calls us to do something the government nor the culture tells us to do: that is, love each other. Love shows itself not by being independent but by overcoming our differences for a common goal. So we are not called to all be the same- everyone has a spot at the table. So (vs. 15) the foot doesn’t say because I am not a hand I do not belong here. So I hope that a person who says, “I can’t sing in the choir “ doesn’t feel left out. Or even the person who says, “I can’t hear music well because of my ears” doesn’t feel left out. So I hope the person who says, “I love little children” doesn’t feel left out- but also the person who says, “I’m glad I’m beyond having children” feels a place here- I still hope we can all work together. As I have said, I am so grateful that we have variety here- children and senior citizens, youth and middle agers, and a sprinkling of everyone in between. Church may be one of the few places where you rub elbows with someone of a different age group. O we need each other- and God has placed us here to need each other. Scripture says, “As iron sharpens iron so one person sharpens another.” 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? There are many parts but one body. Do you know that theologically, one of the great signs of blessing is variety, and one of the great signs of distress is only similar people. So when a great war happens- all the young men or all men are wiped out- so that only women are left. So when there is famine or disease- like some terrible flu bug- often the people effected are the old people and the very young or sick. It is sad when only the strong are left. The survival of the fittest is not really the best ideal when you really think about it. In the Bible when it speaks of God’s blessing it speaks of having babies and more babies. I believe our church is in such a time of blessing- we’ve had a slew of baptisms- infant and young adult lately, and our nursery- even though expanded is brimming over- which is a sign of blessing. But also that we have older adults here is a sign of blessing. People are living to see their children’s children. When we can pull together and respect each other and work together- that is the way of love- the way of being one body- the church- and God smiles.
Our passage says “Now you are the body of Christ and each one of you is a part of it.” You may be sitting in a corner of the church saying, “I am not sure I am a part of it.” But you are here today, and maybe, just maybe the Holy Spirit is drawing you to be a part of us. It is important to be a part of some body of Christ somewhere. Being in no-man’s-land is not a good place to be. It is like being a foster child looking in at the family. We are called, we are drawn to be a part, to be members of the body of Christ- in some particular body. So you are a part of the family, and the family is a part of you. So you can say, “This is my church- and we are doing this.” So you can plug in, jump in, fall in, work in, love in, and be strengthened in your faith.
On the cover of your bulletin today is a quilt that one of our members has been working on for a while now. It is one quilt made of many different patches. Each patch symbolizes a small group. I believe it is important to try to find some small group to plug into. So there is a Missions patch with the different missions causes we support on it; so there is a Sunday School patch with the many different classes here; there is a Women’s patch and a Men’s Patch and a youth patch, and a children’s patch and more. This is who we are- God has called us to serve together, to be together- not a part- in one quilt, one family, one body. So respect the body- join the body- love the body of Christ.