Based on the third commitment of a healthy church in Take Your Church’s Pulse
Theme: God gives each of us different gifts for service in the one body of Christ.
Goal: To use our gifts for service in the one body of Christ.
Need: We all belong to the one body of Christ.
People of God, we have seen God’s clear and inspiring vision which motivates His people to action, we have learned that Jesus gives us leaders to prepare us to serve, so naturally today we are going to talk about the different gifts each of us has received for service in the one body of Christ.
The body of Christ is the new house of God. In history, the house of God was a building. For example, following the exodus of God’s people from Egypt it was a large tent called a tabernacle. Later it became a very ornate building called the temple. In each of these locations, God used skilled laborers with diverse abilities to complete the projects to God’s own specifications. But in the new kingdom age, the house of God is not a building—it is people.
(Read John 2:12-22)
At the coming of Jesus, the house of God was no longer a building. The house of God was a person - the person of Jesus - Immanuel - God with us. And after Jesus “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross scorning its shame” sat down at the right hand of the throne of God, He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in God’s people.
(Read I Corinthians 3:16-17; I Corinthians 12:27)
So now we are the temple; we are the house of God; we are the body of Christ, and each one of us is a part of it. So how do you think God will complete His new project to His own specifications? Just as in the past, God will use each of us, our unique skills, abilities, gifts, passions, personalities, and experiences, to accomplish His purposes here on earth.
We all know that “many hands make light work.” If lots of people chip in, the work gets done in no time. Well, the same is true in the Church, the body of Christ.
(Read Romans 12:1-8)
God gives each of us different gifts for service in the one body of Christ. We are all part of one body, and as such we each have a unique role to play. So only when we all do our part can the body be what the body is called to be.
Now at this point you might ask “WHY?” Why do I have to participate? I have a job. I contribute to the needs of the church. Isn’t that enough? Why do I need to participate? The apostle Paul answers that question two ways. First he offers us some solid reasoning to motivate us to participate. Second, he uses a picture of the human body to show us the necessity of our full participation.
First, solid reasoning as motivation.
(Read verses 1-2)
The reasoning goes like this. Once again he points us to the cross. Remember Jesus. Remember His death. He died that death so that you and I could live. Jesus offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice for our sins so that we could be free. This was God’s rich mercy to us. In Jesus, we did not receive what we deserved.
“in view of God’s mercy offer your bodies as living sacrifices ...”
Since Jesus offered Himself for us, it seems only fitting that we would offer ourselves to Him. One interpretation of the Greek word here translated as “spiritual” is “reasonable.” Jesus offered Himself for us; therefore it is only reasonable that we would offer our whole selves to Him. This is Paul’s solid reasoning as motivation to participate, but that is not all. Paul also answers our question “WHY must I participate?” by showing us the necessity of our full participation.
(Read verse 3)
It all starts with sober judgment. We need to get our thinking right. First we need to realize none of us is TOO BIG. We are not so BIG that we do not need anyone else. No one can do the work of God in this world alone. No one is gifted enough. No one is spiritual enough. No one is strong enough. No one can do it alone.
But the second thing we need to realize is that none of us is too small either. No one is insignificant. No one is unnecessary. No one lacks gifts. Instead “each of us is a member of the body of Christ.” So with sober judgment let’s think of ourselves rightly. We are not TOO BIG, and we are not too small. Each of us has a significant role to play in the one body of Christ.
(Read verses 4-5)
Here is where Paul uses the picture of the human body. Think about your own body for a second. Your hands, head, arms, legs, feet, nose and all your internal organs, etc. Every piece of you is important. Every part is significant. There are no insignificant, unimportant, useless parts. You and I are fearfully and wonderfully made. Each part of our bodies works together to keep us in good shape. If one of those parts stops working, or begins to work against the other parts, then the body is sick. It is unhealthy. We go to the doctor where a nurse checks our vital signs. They want to know what is going wrong in the body. And you know the same thing is true in the body of Christ. We belong to each other. We all have to do our part and work together for the body to remain healthy. Otherwise the body will not work as it should.
(Read verses 6-8)
Paul lists a number of gifts and how they should be used for service in the one body of Christ: prophesying (sharing good news about Jesus), serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, leading, and showing mercy. Notice that each of these gifts is different. No one person has them all, yet they are all necessary. If the person who serves decides to stop serving, and the person who encourages decides to stop encouraging, then the body is unhealthy and unable to do its God-given work. And that’s the other thing. These are gifts. They are given from God to accomplish the purposes of God. So not only is it fitting that we offer ourselves fully to God, it is also necessary so that the one body of Christ can do the work God has planned for us to do. God gives each of us different gifts for service in the one body of Christ.
So how are we doing?
(complete surveys) - Are we identifying gifts? Are we giving opportunities to serve?
Yesterday at classis we heard the denominational statistic - 120 people to reach 1 and the West Coast statistic - 40 people to reach 1 = 700 added to 28,000 in 2010. Good, but not adequate. 40,000,000 people on the West Coast of the US do not know Jesus. Each day those 40,000,000 people live, die, get married, have children, etc.* We are not even keeping up with the current demand let alone the increasing demand. This incredible God-sized work is going to require the full participation of the entire body of Christ to see the kingdom of God begin to advance on the West Coast today.
God gives each of us different gifts for service in the one body of Christ. There are different gifts but only one body. The body of Christ is the new house of God. So let’s get to work together as God has planned ... for God’s glory and Christ’s kingdom. Amen.
*This statistic is from 2011. Please search for updated stats in your area.