Amanda, Ian, Jonny and Mark provided our music for worship today.
Amanda led worship with some work with the kids and adults on being part of a team and in turn part of one body. Jonny provided the expert football advice reinforced by Josh whilst our body illustration was provided by Jess. Amanda encouraged us all to come and enter the things we do on the diagram that symbolised the body of the church. She took us through all the different roles and asked us to remember not to say “we are just the…” when describing our role. We’re all a key part of the body of the church.
1 Corinthians 12:12-31 was the passage preached on by Tim.
Paul has used the picture of a body . But imagine an eye with just two legs running around. Imagine an ear just flying off on its own. The church in Corinth was in a mess, full of factions all intent on following different people or ideas. Spiritual gifts were being shown but they were not being used in the right way , not for the common good as Esther showed last week. We often look at the gifts and and what applies to us and this is not helpful at all . Just ticking off a list and aspiring to other gifts. This means we’re focussed on the I and not the we. It blinds us to what others are to us. Paul urged unity, to see it is about us, about us being a part of the incredible thing that God calls the church. There were those in Corinth who spoke in tongues who were queuing up to perform. Without interpreters this was just babble. There are several different lists of spiritual gifts. Spiritual gifts were granted in Exodus to decorate the temple. God equips his church for every moment in history. There are gifts now that did not exist in the Bible, such as doing the computers at the back of church. Each of us is a unique gift to the other. The churches are all different. We’re walking along a path with our brothers and sisters from Headland Baptist Church.
It may be uncomfortable. What about the other churches Holy Trinity, St. John Vianneys, the Pentecostal church. They are our partners in Christ, without these unique gifts from God we are not complete. The church is intended to be a first taste of all creation. It is difficult to work with people who are different to us. It’s a gift from God, his grace at work through difference and diversity. Paul’s claims in 12 and 13 are rooted in baptism. Baptism lets us experience the spirit of God at work. The Corinthians were using gifts for their own glory and not for what got intended . Paul writes to the people urging them to be part of one body. This image was used in the Roman world but they made it that the privileged did not have to do anything. Paul turns this around saying that the weak parts are there to be cared for and not abused. Tim was stuck on the image of an eye just running around on two legs! Paul points out the absurdity of parading gifts without love. Paul deliberately focussed on the weaker parts having a special place in the body picture that Paul is describing. Those cultural weaknesses characterise his own weaknesses. The weakness of |God is stronger than human strength. God’s power is at work in what the world sees as weakness. Paul reinforces this in his second letter. God has arranged the body giving greater importance to the weaker elements. A well functioning Christian community should release the gifts of others.
The gift of each is inseparable from the need of each. It is easier to reach out and embrace our Baptist brothers and sisters at headland. Yet we’re not so comfortable reaching out to our Anglican or Catholic brothers and sisters. Yet god made all this diversity. Paul reminds of the need for unity, paul needs to bring the letter to a close and in verse 27 he does this. In the Greek translation this starts “You” imagine Yoda saying “You, the body of Christ are!” This is a plural you in the Greek . Each one us is part of it. Whatever strengthens the community is to be sought out and welcomed. We are his body, let us live up to that calling.