Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Bethany Bullet - January 22, 2013

On June 1, 2012 David McCullough Jr. a teacher at Wellesley High School in Massachusetts delivered one of the most honest commencement addresses in recent memory.  In speaking to the senior class he said,

You are not special. You are not exceptional.  Contrary to what your under 9 soccer trophy suggests, your glowing seventh grade report card, despite every assurance of a certain corpulent purple dinosaur, that nice Mister Rogers and your batty Aunt Sylvia, no matter how often your maternal caped crusader has swooped in to save you… you’re nothing special.”

The same could be said here, to this audience today, “You are not special! You’re not!!”

You may have heard it a thousand times, you may have said it to your kids or grandkids, you may have even read a book that tried to convince you, but it is a fact…you are NOT special.

Now, hold on pastor, wait a minute, I’ve read my Bible, I know that God has created me to be unique, it’s right there; take a look at Psalm 139 won’t you? 

OK, I will agree that you are a unique child of God, but Scripture also proclaims that you are not special.

From Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, the 12th chapter, “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body.” (1 Corinthians 12:12)

Last week we celebrated the Baptism of Jesus and this week Paul reminds us that we were all baptized into one body.  That is our theme for the next three weeks, you can see it on the cover of your worship folder and today we proclaim the truth that you are not special, you don’t stand out in the crowd, you are no better than anyone else in here.

Still a little on edge?  In the eyes of the law we are not special either, in fact we are anything but special.  As Paul wrote to the Romans, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)  “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.  All have turned away…there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12)

You are not special.  You have not earned favor with God. There is nothing inside of you that makes you stand out.  All are equally guilty.

Paul goes on in our text from 1 Corinthians, “14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 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. 16 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. 17 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?” (1 Corinthians 12:14-17)

Paul uses the analogy of the body to make his point.  Even in Paul’s day, there was understanding of the complex system of organs and parts that were combined to make the human body function.  But this was more than just a biology lesson. Paul has a theological lesson to impart. 

Some of us in this room have a foot and ear complex.  Foot and Ear Complex happens when individuals give in to the lie that they do not have worth, or that they don’t belong. This happens in our lives when we start comparing ourselves to others, wishing we had what they have. Comparison can lead to complacency which ends in corruption.

Paul goes on, 21 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!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.” (1 Corinthians 12:21-22)
Others in this room have an eye and hand complex.  Eye and Hand Complex occurs when individuals believe that they don’t need anyone else.  This is the home of pride and a myopic outlook of reality.  Everything is about me, no one else matters.  Selfish ambition reigns and the needs and cares of others are forgotten. 

Both of these maladies splinter the body and render it unhealthy and unable to do even the simplest of tasks.
Back to our text, 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” (1 Corinthians 12:18-20).

It is a very interesting picture that Paul paints here.  Paul describes God’s actions here like that of an artist mixing elements and items, colors and contrasts to create a work of art.  All of the pieces are important, none are trivial each one valuable and all necessary and in the end, all must cooperate and compensate especially in crisis and in the end, there is one unit, one masterpiece, ONE BODY.  It is truly fitting to say the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. 

But indeed there is a crisis at hand, an epidemic that has afflicted the church, the body of Christ.  All too often the church suffers from an overabundance of feet and ears, eyes and hands at the expense of the health and virility of the body as a whole. 

But the antidote for this all comes down to ONE BODY, a body that was cradled in a manger, whose feet walked this soil, who heard the cries of humanity, whose eyes looked upon us with mercy and whose hands were pierced so that we might be healed, so we might be ONE. 

That ONE BODY prayed for us.  Near the end of His earthly ministry, after praying for His disciples, Jesus said these words to His Father, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.” (John 17:20-21)

There is equality in Jesus.  He took on all our diseases and infirmities and placed us all on equal footing to stand as one, redeemed and forgiven in the site of God. 

By His death and resurrection we have been healed of foot and ear complex, and eye and hand complex has been eradicated by the hands of the Savior. 

In the sight of the Law we may be equally condemned, but by the blood of Jesus we are equally saved.  You might think you are weaker, you might think you are indispensible; the truth is we are all equal in this ONE BODY.

Back to the text, “there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:25-27)

No matter what your gift or role in this ONE BODY you are as important as anybody. People with what we might call “spectacular” gifts are not to be given special honor. People with what we might call “ordinary” gifts are not to be counted as less.

But if this ONE BODY is to survive and thrive we are to have equal concern or have the same care for one another.

The diversity of the body does not suggest inferiority and this unity does not mean unvarying uniformity.  No part of this ONE BODY is redundant or unnecessary.  God doesn’t make junk. 

You may not be “special” but you are vital. Here in this body, we suffer together, we rejoice together; we pray together, we kneel at the rail together.  For in the sight of God we are equal, and together we are ONE BODY!

-Pastor Seth Moorman


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