Getting Personal: Out-of-Body Experience 2
On Sunday at the Mount Laurel Campus, Pastor Rick talked about how the body had many parts. How it is literally made up of cells, which comprise organs, and groups of organs which make up systems. To emphasize this, he referred to the verses in 1 Corinthians 12.
There are a few verses of this passage that I particularly like, starting with verse 14:
Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?
I love it because for me it paints such a silly picture of how we might look if we were "all eye" or "all foot." Just pause for a minute and get that image in your head. Amusing, isn't it? But seriously, the body just wouldn't be the same without all of the cells, organs and systems functioning together. Each part adds its own special unique quality to the body.
But the ridiculous mental image of a body that's "all eye" or "all foot," is no less absurd than people saying that they are Christians and then trying to function on their own. Sure, even if they're alone they're still Christians, and there may be, as Rick said, reasons for this "aloneness." One is that they may be too proud of their own abilities. If that's the case, that person may be saying, "I can do it on my own,"--and it can be done! But that individual will miss out on so much by being a "loner." Or perhaps someone has been hurt by the church, and thinks he's just not needed. Not true. The need is just as great to be a part of the body of the church as it is for the hand, foot and the eye to be a part of the human body. As Paul goes on to say in 1 Corinthians 12:27:
All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.
Or to put it in as Rick did: TOGETHER WE ARE BETTER.
Let me illustrate this in another way by telling a story which will explain not only why we are better together, but also how parts come together to make the "whole thing" better than each individual part.
Every Christmas, I bake cookies--just one variety. But, these are not any ordinary cookies. They were invented by my roommate and me, and the story of their invention goes something like this:
One winter day, the two roommates, both named Judy, were trapped in their house during a snowstorm. Wanting to make the day productive, they decided to bake up a batch of cookies. But, being housebound, they could use only the ingredients they had on hand. So one Judy, the rule-following Judy, pulled out a recipe, and also grabbed ingredients out of the cabinet which were called for: Oatmeal, sugar, flour, and nuts. But the creative Judy also found white and dark chocolate and decided these would also work well in the cookie recipe. The rule-follower didn't argue with these additions because she loved chocolate! The recipe also called for raisins, but sadly, all the Judys had were some old currents that were amalgamated together as hard as a rock.
"No problem," said the creative Judy, "We'll just pour brandy all over them and nuke them!"
The Judys mixed, the dough was finally finished, and the first dozen were placed in the oven. As they waited for the finished product, the most marvelous aroma began to fill the house. When the timer rang and the cookies immerged with golden brown edges, a new buttery, brandy-smelling, chocolaty, nutty, oatmealy melt-in-your-mouth cookie had been born. We christened it The Double Judy Snowstorm Cookie.
But let's go back for a minute and ask a few questions: How would the story have ended if the rule-following Judy had been alone without creative Judy and found only those rock-hard currents to use in place of the called-for raisins? She may have given up right then and there and never even attempted to make the cookies. But she worked TOGETHER with creative Judy who came up with the idea of pouring brandy on the currents and reviving them in the microwave.
And what if any one of those other ingredients were left out? The chocolate or the nuts? Or even those brandy-soaked currents? Sadly, the cookies wouldn't have had the sugary, soft yet crunchy, brandy and chocolaty quality that today's cookie now has. Each ingredient adds its own special character to the recipe. All the ingredients are connected, and there is something about the chemistry when all these ingredients "marry" and function together which makes the cookie unique.
It's all connected: The cookies themselves have ingredients that work together to create a unique taste--just as all our body parts work together to allow us to function. Our bodies are not just an eye, or a foot--just as the cookies are not just oatmeal or just chocolate or nuts.
And, each of the Judys used her own special skills and gifts to work together with the other to make the cookies better. The same is true of us as members of the body of the Church. Each time we work together, using our God-given gifts and talents, we make whatever we are doing for the glory of Christ that much better. Whether it's teaching, leading, healing, helping or any number of other gifts, we multiply those gifts when we're together. So, DO something with your talents. Use what God has given you and work with others, since together we're better.