160124 1 Corinthians 12:12-21; 26-27

Last Updated on Sunday, 24 January 2016 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Text: 1 Corinthians 12:12-21; 26-27
Theme: ARE YOU EXCITED TO BE A MEMBER OF CHRIST'S TEAM?

I want you to think of your favorite athlete. How successful do you think that athlete would be, if they didn't have any teammates? If your favorite athlete plays golf or is a boxer, maybe then they don't rely on teammates to win. But, how many games would Lebron James win if it was just him playing against the 5 players from the other team night after night? How successful would Aaron Rogers be if he didn't have someone to throw to or teammates that play defense to stop the other team from scoring? Could Ryan Bruan play every position, each inning, by himself and still hope to win? Of course, the answer to all these questions is that having teammates is important to have success. This is true in the Ministry of the Lord's Church as well. So my question for you today is this: "Are you excited to be a member of Christ's team?" God's Word before us from 1 Corinthians chapter 12 answers this question in two ways. First, we will see that it is the Holy Spirit who makes you part of Christ's team; and, as part of Christ's team, you have an important position on this team.

The players who end up as part of a team don't really have any control over who will make up the members of the team. While they might try out for the team, it is the coach who will make the final decision as to who will be a part of a particular team. This is a similar situation when we talk about being part of Christ's team. The choice is not ours to make. It is all done by God the Holy Spirit. As we read in the verses before us, "The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink." It is only by the working of God the Holy Spirit that anyone can become part of Christ's team. It is earlier in chapter 12 of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians that we read, "No one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, 'Jesus be cursed', and no one can say, 'Jesus is Lord', except by the Holy Spirit."

This passage brings up an important point for us to be clear on. And this is also where the example of a player making a team, like the basketball team or football team or any other type of team, falls short as a perfect example of how we become part of Christ's team. You see, to be part of an athletic team, some effort on our part is needed. If you don't measure up to the coach's standards, you won't make the team. However, it is important to remember that to be part of Christ's team doesn't depend on anything you or I say or do. It is all by the working of God the Holy Spirit on our heart.

Now, a coach may ask a certain person to be on the team, but if that person refuses to be part of the team, whose fault is it? The coach? The other team members? No, the player himself or herself is held responsible for not being part of the team. So it is with those who are not part of Christ's team. It is not that God the Holy Spirit doesn't want them on the team, but rather they have refused to be a part of it. The Bible speaks of this with these words from Peter's second letter, "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."

Are you excited to be a member of Christ's team? In his letter to Titus, Paul writes that our gracious God "saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy." With no effort on your part or mine, God, who is rich in mercy and love, saved you and me. The sinful nature inside each one of us rebels at this thought. Your sinful nature and my sinful nature insists that there must be something I am able to do to make myself part of Christ's team. Yet, what Good News the Holy Spirit shares with us through the pen of Paul, "For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body . . . and we were all given the one Spirit to drink." As God the Holy Spirit works, hearts once filled only with sin, are filled with the water of our God's powerful Word. By the working of that all-powerful Word we are led to believe in Jesus Christ as our only Savior from sin. Faith in Jesus as your Savior, forgiveness of all your sins, and the desire to live for your Savior are all free gifts given to you by the Holy Spirit. God's Word is clear that you and I are part of Christ's team only by the working of God the Holy Spirit.

Are you excited to be a member of Christ's team? Sections of God's Word like this one before us, give us the opportunity to talk a little bit about the connection between faith and good works. It is important for us to remember that it is not our good works that make us part of Christ's team. But, our good works do show that we are part of Christ's team. And here in 1 Corinthians, chapter 12, we are reminded that as a member of Christ's team, you and I have an important position on his team.

Paul uses the picture of the human body to make the point that you and I are part of the body of Christ, that you and I are part of Christ's team, with very important tasks to carry out. "Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, ''Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, ''Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 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? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ''I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, ''I don't need you!"

There are two points to take away from these verses. First, no team member, no one task done for the service of Christ's Church, is greater or more important than the other. The second is that no one team member or no small group of team members can do all the work of the Church. As all the different parts of our body work together for the overall common good of our body, so all of us who are part of Christ's team work together for the common good of Christ's Church.

Finally, Paul makes this point, "If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it." The hymn writer put it this way:

Blest be the tie that binds Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds Is like to that above.

Before our Father's throne We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one, Our comforts and our cares.

We share our mutual woes, Our mutual burdens bear,
And often for each other flows The sympathizing tear.

One of the important tasks the members of Christ's team carry out is being there for each other. You and I rejoice with a fellow brother or sister in Christ who is enjoying good times. You and I offer support to a fellow member of Christ's team during the difficult times in their life.

Are you excited to be a member of Christ's team? Let me ask this question another way: Whose job is it to carry on the work of our congregation? Just the Pastors and Teachers? The Pastors and Teachers, along with the Church Council members? Just the men of our congregation who serve on our boards or the men and women of our congregation who serve on the various committees of our congregation? Maybe you think it is the younger generation, because "we who are older have put in our time"?

God's Word reminds each of us that we are all part of Christ's team. We give thanks to our gracious Lord that by the working of God the Holy Spirit we have been made part of Christ's team. And we show our thankfulness by getting involved in the work of the Church. While we don't all have the same type of gifts or the same amount of gifts, all of us, as part of Christ's team, enjoy an important position on his team. Something for you to think about and pray about it this: are you faithfully using all the gifts our gracious God has given to you for service in his Church? Like the athletes who work hard to get better at their sport, work hard at developing the gifts our gracious God has given to you. Are you sitting on the bench, simply watching others carry out their positions on Christ's team? If so, God's Word encourages you today to get off the bench! Join your brothers and sisters in Christ in being an active member of Christ's team here at St. Matthew's. Listen to God the Holy Spirit as he says to you personally, "Now YOU are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it."

It is fun for us to watch a sport when everyone on the team is working hard together. The Lord of the Church is pleased when he sees his team members working together to carry out the "game plan", the ministry he has given you and me to carry out. My dear fellow teammates, don't be a bench sitter! Remember, you are an important member of Christ's team. It is God the Holy Spirit who made you part of Christ's team, and it is that same Spirit who has given you an important position on this team. My dear fellow teammates: It's game time and your teammates need you to join them! Amen.

 

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Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.

 

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818 West Wisconsin Avenue
Oconomowoc, WI 53066
262-912-6060

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