God Designs the Body (1 Corinthians 12:12-31)

July 9 2023

Series: 1 Corinthians

All right the sermon today is about dodgeball. Everyone can relate to that, but it is good to be together. Welcome everyone. Welcome. For those of you that are joining us online, we are featuring our Florida teen and youth camp today. As was said, we had 300 kids there at fruitland park at Camp Geneva. 300 kids ranging from eight years old to 17 years old. And then we had counselors, and volunteers from four different generations. We had campers from different cities around the state. We had kids from the state of Virginia that participated, young men and women. It was a beautiful mix of cultures, and socioeconomic backgrounds, all learning to love Jesus. And more than ever I just want to express I’m very, very grateful for our family of churches in the state of Florida. That’s pretty much all I know except for three and a half years in Scotland. So I’m very, very thankful for this family of churches and our connection here in this state. I’m grateful for the Orlando Church of Christ and our 25-year history with this camp. That is phenomenal. Specifically, I’m grateful for the East region and the video we just saw.

Why I love to go to camp. Those were all kids from the east region. These are our children, young men, and women. The first video we watched, was the anniversary video with Eddie’s flat-top haircut, that video was great as well. And I hope you noticed how much of an impact this region has had on teen and youth camps over the years. God has really blessed us in a great way to be a part of all of that. And for those of us that served at the camp and for the kids that attended the camp, we did have the time of our lives. It’s a feeling that’s really hard to describe. It’s supernatural teamwork. It’s coming together, it’s working together, it’s sacrificing together, and it’s all for a cause that’s greater than ourselves. A teen and youth camp is a one-week snapshot of every part doing its work. It’s the body of Christ working as one, just as God envisioned it and as God designed it. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s turn in our Bibles to 1 Corinthians chapter twelve. And if you’re visiting with us today, we’re studying Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth.

In the first century Corinth. It was a cosmopolitan seaport. It was incredibly diverse in its population, very similar to Orlando. Also, Corinth was a destination city in the Roman Empire. Just like Corinth, the Church there was diverse, supremely talented, and passionate. But unfortunately, the Church also imitated its culture and its lack of unity, its tribalism, and not always working together for the best of the Church. So let’s begin reading here in One Corinthians twelve, verse twelve. This is the Revised English Bible. This is a very familiar passage on unity. And what’s really cool is we get to now read this scripture in the context of the eleven chapters we’ve already studied as a church. So let’s read this together. One Corinthians twelve. Verse twelve. For just as the body is one with its many limbs and organs, we many, as they are together, make up one body. And this is the case with Christ. For in the one Spirit, we were all brought into one body by baptism. Whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free, we were all given that one spirit to drink. And a body is not a single organ, but many, and we’ll stop there.

So in the first eleven chapters, I think you would agree if you’ve been with us in this study of First Corinthians, Paul has given us a master class on unity, but he’s not done yet. Here in chapter twelve, Paul brilliantly tackles these same issues in the Church of sin, division, and competition. And what he does to go after it this time is he compares the Church to the human body. And I see four key points here for us in the first three verses. Number one, this cannot be stated enough. The church is Christ’s own body. That’s why in Acts nine if you notice when Jesus confronts Saul on the road to Damascus when he has an intervention with Saul and blinds them with the light, all right, when Jesus talks to Saul, he does not say, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting the Church? But rather Jesus says, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? So if the body or if the Church is the body of Christ, then the implications for us are enormous. So please keep that in mind as we go. Second terminology in verse twelve. In the strictest sense, the Greek would translate this as the body has many members and I think most of our translations have that and it is correct.

But I want to use words today that we would often use in 2023 that we would understand. Think of it this way the body has many limbs and organs and that’s why I utilize the REB that is accurate as well, and it gives more of a sense of what we would understand as the human body. The body has many limbs and organs. Number three, the baptism that’s mentioned here and the Spirit in verse 13, baptism is the one-way ticket into the body of Christ. That’s what just happened with our brother Darryl Bell, baptized last night. This connects also to One Corinthians ten. Remember that the Israelites, when they went through the Red Sea, they were baptized into Moses, into the old covenant. Today, with a new covenant, we are baptized into Christ. This is how you receive the Holy Spirit. We’ve all been given that same spirit to drink. It’s the spirit that Paul’s trying to emphasize here to the church in Corinth and to us. It’s this spirit that we all drink. It unites us in gender, it unites us in social class, unites skin color generations, and all of our gifts. Number four, the body is not a single organ, but many.

That’s in verse 14. That makes sense, right? And Paul’s going to continue to develop this in greater detail moving forward. The human body is a diversity of unique limbs and organs all working together for the whole. In the same way, this is God’s expectation for his church. One body, many limbs, and organs. Now, who here has heard the expression that there are no solo Christians, right? Maybe you’ve shared that or you’ve heard that this is true. But based on this text, I’ll also tell you this. There are no Silo Christians in the body of Christ. Think about this. This is a big part of what Paul’s trying to teach the church in Corinth. And we need to build a bridge to today. There are no Silo Christians in the body of Christ. You think about what a silo is. It’s a storage container for only one type of crop, and it’s isolated from everyone else. It’s also used in the business world. Now. It’s also part of a company or an organization or a system that does not communicate with or understand or work well with the other parts. They’ve siloed themselves. The application for us, god did not design the body to be a silo of hands.

We need the hands. All hands on deck. Here’s what I mean. The temptation for some of us, depending on our ben, is like, hey, I’m only going to be with a group of Christians who serve one another and serve the community. That is our mission. Silo of hands or God did not design the body of Christ to become a silo of ears and mouths. In other words, hey, I feel this is the mission of the church. I’m only going to be with people like me who believe talking and listening should be the primary ministry of the Church. Let’s all become the ears and the mouths because we have trauma, we need to heal. We’re just primarily only going to be this healing ministry. I don’t want you to get me wrong on this. The hands of the Church, the ears of the Church, the mouth of the church, these are invaluable. All the parts are invaluable. All the limbs, all the organs. We just cannot get out of balance because our temptation is to go in a silo. These are invaluable to all these parts of the body, but not on their own. God does not call us to be Silo Christians.

And I want to make the point here that Paul’s incorporating the Spirit, and we all drink of the same spirit. No matter how good it seems or how worthy the call is, it is not of the Spirit if it contradicts God’s design for the body of Christ. So when we were baptized into Christ, it’s exciting, it’s cool. Don’t forget who you are and what you’ve become. We became limbs and organs to something and someone much bigger than ourselves. We are the body of Christ. We are one body with many members, its individuality and unity blending perfectly for God’s purposes. I really believe the last 25 years of teen camp have proven this. In the state of Florida. Yes, we’ve had our ups and downs in the state as churches, as a family of churches worldwide. But I tell you what, without a commitment to one another, without a commitment to the greater body, rather than silos of disciples, teen Camp simply does not happen. I want to ask you, how important is it for you to be a limb or organ connected to the body? Or could you be like me and you prefer at times to be untethered from the greater body?

Paul continues his appeal to us. Let’s read some more here, beginning in verse 14, one Corinthians twelve. Verse 14. A body is not a single organ, but many. Suppose the foot were to say, because I’m not a hand, I don’t belong to the body. It belongs to the body. Nonetheless. Verse 16. Suppose the ear were to say, because I’m not an eye, I don’t belong to the body. It still belongs to the body. If the body were all eyes, how could it hear? If the body were all ears, how could it smell? But in fact, circle this one, verse 18. In fact, it is God who appointed each lemon organ to its own place in the body as he chose. If the whole were a single organ, there would be nobody at all. In fact, however, there are many different organs but one body. So this is in this section. This is Paul’s appeal to those who could feel inferior about their role or their place in the church. And I want you to hear this today if you feel this from time to time. I don’t know my place in this church, and I don’t really know how I fit in or what I do or how I serve, or how I contribute really isn’t significant.

I encourage you it is. If we’re truly the body of Christ, every single member is invaluable to how we function together. And that’s why I love thinking about the body as limbs and organs and the physical body. Consider the most visible parts. All right. The parts you see the parts all of us see today. We see your face, we see your eyes, your nose, your ears, your mouth, your legs, your arms. We all see this. But what about the inner organs that no one can see? Are those inner organs any less valuable to you? Not at all. Where would you be without your kidneys? Where would you be without your lungs? Where would you be without your brain? We don’t see it, and I’m thankful for that. But it’s invaluable. It’s indispensable. Where would you be without your heart? In the same way, no one is superior or inferior in their role in the body of Christ the Church. There’s no envy. There’s no room for boasting, only teamwork. Let’s read it again. Verse 18. But in fact, God appointed each limb and organ to its own place in the body as he chose. If you want a title for this, we’ll bring it back to God.

God designs the body. It’s God that designs the body. Let’s keep reading. First Corinthians twelve, verse 21 the eye cannot say to the hand, I don’t need you. Or the head to the feet I don’t need you. Quite the contrary. Those parts of the body which seem to be more frail than others are indispensable. And those parts of the body which we regard as less honorable are treated with special honor. The parts we are modest about are treated with special respect. Whereas our respectable parts have so much need. And I think this is important in 2023 it’s really all too easy. We may not say it, but we think it. Or our actions show it. It’s really easy. Just think about certain parts of the Church and say, I don’t really need you. I don’t need that. I don’t need you. When it comes to disciplining one another relationships and really getting in one another’s lives, okay, I’ve tried that. Or if that’s the way you think, I don’t really need your discipline. Or I don’t need a local preacher, I don’t need a live teacher, or I don’t need an elder. I mean, I have books, I have podcasts, I have YouTube videos and I can do all that at home.

Are you with me? I don’t need that. That’s the way we could think. I don’t need you. Even our music and our worship, it was awesome today, but I can go on YouTube and watch professionals and get my worship on. Do you know what I’m saying? But here’s the truth nothing replaces human relationships. That’s why we’re here. We’re the body of Christ. Nothing replaces thinking through. Okay, well, who am I giving grace to? Who am I investing in? Who am I loving or who is giving me grace? Who am I receiving grace from and all of my sins and my challenges? And who am I receiving love and instruction from? Who’s involved with me in this section? Paul, in a very, very clever way. This is brilliant. Basically, he rebukes the church in Corinth in this section for its condescension and its pride, saying, I don’t need you. But here’s the truth. In fact, those who appear to have the more public gifts, including myself, could turn out to be less indispensable than many others, less indispensable than the faithful, humble, hardworking inner organs of this church. All the roles are important, but it’s the body.

We work together. I’m personally very grateful for those often hidden yet indispensable parts of the body of Christ. Very grateful. 23 years now after my baptism. There is no way I would be a Christian here today without the church members. You do not see that. They’re not in public view. They don’t stand out. But they’ve helped keep me here. It’s the tiny slip of paper after a Sunday service with an encouraging scripture from Isabel Ramirez. It’s the text messages from Scott Schultz or Angie Rivera about a sermon I did that motivate me to keep on preaching for Amy and me. It’s the greater church, as I talked about with the teen camp and the unity that we fight for. It’s the greater church, specifically in Gainesville, Florida, the greater church in Naples, Fort Myers that loved and protected our parents when they became widows. I don’t want to take that for granted. Friday morning, we had 15 of our teens gathered here at the building to learn about what it takes to become a Christian. We had a teen Bible study with 15 kids studying the purpose of the word of God. God and his word were awesome.

And many of those kids are from the east, our local church. And we’re going to be doing that every Friday, 11:00 A.m. But I want you just this is just a small example of this. Look around. Look in your family groups. You know the families in those groups. You know the children of those groups. The harvest is plentiful in our teens and preteens. The question is, who’s ready to be a worker? It’s not glamorous. It won’t get your name in the lights. But the body needs limbs and organs to study the Bible with our young men and young women. They’re hungry right now. And to illustrate this, just think about it. I mean, we want a healthy body and this is what you are doing. I am just calling you even higher. I’m calling myself higher on this. The target is Christ. We are the body of Christ. But I think we have to be very careful when we think about this analogy here. Imagine walking on one leg all the time. If you had two healthy legs but you chose to walk on one leg all the time, what would that do to your body?

It wouldn’t just be the legs that are affected. It affects everyone. Imagine trying or just taking one hand and tying it behind your back for five years. Your hand and your arm are completely healthy, but you tie it behind there for whatever reason? I don’t know. Who would do that? I don’t know. But would that be good for your body? That’s not good for anybody. Or I don’t think you can do this. Maybe one of the youth campers would correct me, but I don’t think you can do this. Is trying to breathe out of just one lung for a year. Why would you do that? You have two of them and they’re working together. So in the same way, if we only have a handful of members doing all the work of the body, what happens to that body? It becomes stale, slow, and unhealthy. But I want you to have a vision. We’re great. Let’s be greater. Let’s be greater. All the parts doing their work. Let’s keep reading. In verse 24, 2nd part of verse 24, God has combined the various parts of the body. There’s God. He’s doing it. He’s combined the various parts of the body, giving special honor to the humbler parts.

So that there might be no division in the body, but that all its parts might feel the same concern for one another. If one part suffers, all suffer together. If one part flourishes, we all rejoice together. Verse 27. Now, you are Christ’s body, and each of you is a limb or organ of it. It’s ironic. This exact time, two summers ago, we all rejoice with Malik Brown. This is the exact time, two summers ago, we were at University High School. I remember it. Malik became the principal of Maitland Middle School. And we were all like, yeah, we can clap more about it. That’s still awesome. That’s amazing. I don’t know how he does it. Thank you, Jesus. And it was exciting. And it still is for all of us. We rejoice with him. We’re proud. I brag about that with other people. Yeah, he goes to my church. I know him. And then, of course, yesterday, more than 300 of us gathered to mourn with Malik, to mourn with his family, to mourn with Freddie in the memorial for Georgia. And that’s because, in the body of Christ, there are no private sufferings. We’re in this together.

Remember verse 24. It is God who has combined the various parts of this body. What we felt yesterday together at the memorial service, all the emotions, the unity that we felt, comes from God. It’s extraordinary. What many of us felt at teen and youth camp. This comes from God. It’s God that brings us all together. This is the body of Christ. God creates physical families, but God also creates spiritual families all over the world. We saw that yesterday. We have people, certainly from all parts of the Orlando Church of Christ for memorial service. But we have people from all parts of Florida and different places who were connected. How the body of Christ. We must never, ever take that for granted and silo ourselves. Let’s close out in verse 28, within our community God has appointed, in the first place, apostles. In the second place, prophets. Thirdly, teachers. Then miracle workers. Then those who have gifts of healing or the ability to help others, various kinds of administrative support or power to guide them, the ability to formulate strategies or the gifts of tongues of various kinds. Verse 29 but are all apostles, all prophets, all teachers?

Do all work miracles? Do all have the gifts of healing? Surely all do not speak in tongues, do they? And can they interpret them? All of them do that in verse 31 the higher gifts are those you should prize. In other words, continue to be zealously, concerned for the higher gifts. But I can show you an even better way. Okay, that’s a trailer for next week 1 Corinthians 13 is the better way. So, as Eddie shared with us last week, this is not a comprehensive list of gifts and roles in the Church. We could help you with some scripture research on that. He shared different scriptures we can look at of the many different gifts. But this is not a comprehensive list, it’s just naming some. First, here we have the apostles, the actual eyewitnesses to the ministry of Jesus. We have some old people in here, but I don’t think that applies to any of you. Then God gives us the body or he gives the body of Christ prophets. And we discussed this last week, and it’s important to know and define what prophets are. And we talked about it again. But for our day and age, these are our preachers of truth.

People that bring truth, that bring the truth of God. These are the people with a gift to proclaim the Gospel and challenge us closely related to that, God provides the Church with teachers. These are men and women who explain the word of God to us in greater depth. And there’s a crossover between both of these? There’s some of both in each, yes. 1 Peter two, we are all a royal priesthood. But a priest and a preacher, a priest and a teacher, they’re not the same thing. Yes, we’re all a royal priesthood, but that’s not the same God-given gifts as preaching and teaching. So in this vein, you cannot say, I don’t need you to preach and teach. This is not a salad bar. This is the body of Christ. Amen. Verse 28 we also have the supernatural gifts of healing, speaking other languages, and interpreting those languages so people can understand. Again, Eddie covered this last week. And why they have faded over time, I don’t want to miss them here. Two invaluable parts of the body are also included in verse 28. It’s the gift of administration and it’s the ability to formulate strategy in the church.

And if you look at Acts chapters two, three, and four, that’s the very beginning, right? That’s the beginning of the church. That’s when it’s exciting, it’s grassroots, it’s growing, it’s organic. They shared all their possessions and we see that in Acts chapter two, and it’s the heyday, it’s amazing in the beginning, it’s organic, it’s authentic, and it’s awesome. But it’s only a matter of time before infrastructure is absolutely necessary for the body. You get to Acts chapter six, and they’re like, oh, we got to organize this thing. This is getting crazy. It’s growing. And we love that, but all kinds of people up in the church now, all different types, we’ve got to adjust. We got to adapt. That’s why we have a lot of these corrective letters, such as First Corinthians. It was like, okay, we got to figure out how to put this thing together. How are we going to make this work? So no matter how simple or streamlined the church is, it’s only a matter of time. I think many of you have been on mission teams when churches were really small, and then when it starts to grow, we got to get organized.

So leadership must be defined. The preachers and the teachers, they need someone that’s working with them. We need highly trained and gifted people to keep financial accounts, monitor decisions, to provide administrative support. I’m grateful for our church board. They help steer the ship for us. And it’s not easy, because sometimes they have to say, well, have you thought about this? Have you thought about that? Have you thought about this? And sometimes the preachers can be like, no, let’s go, let’s go, let’s go, let’s go. They’re like, I want to go, but we got to think about this, this, and this. They help steer the ship for us. They prepare us to avoid potential disasters. But in a very positive sense, they also steer us toward a spiritual goal. Invaluable. I’m grateful for our administrators. She was in the earlier service, and we got to thank her. But I’m very thankful for Jen Pool. She may not always feel that from me, but I need her. We need her. I’m thankful to Anita and Odessa for their many years of service. As our administrators and many others, we also have to be incredibly thankful that our elder, Eddie Francis, not only is a preacher and teacher and shepherd, he’s way gifted in administration.

How cool is that? He’s highly trained. He has degrees in this. What a blessing. So I want you to know it’s biblical. This is not just corporate red tape, all right? Our administration, and our church board, they’re a gift from God and indispensable in the body of Christ. It’s right here in the Scriptures. So I’ll circle back to the beginning and I’ll close with this. As a church, you and I are the very limbs and organs of Jesus. That’s inspiring. And it’s also giving us some serious implications here. Like, think about it. When we sin against each other, and we’re all going to do that, that’s going to happen. When we are tempted to silo ourselves from other parts of the body and have this mindset. I don’t need you. That’s going to happen. We’re human. That’s where we’re going to tend to go. But what we need to understand here with this principle and what Paul is teaching this is not just a personal choice or a preference. This is a sin against the body of Christ himself. It’s serious. In the last two weeks, it’s been incredible. I’ve been able to see firsthand two vivid snapshots of the body of Christ in all its glory.

Florida Teen and Youth Camp and yesterday’s memorial service for Georgia Bryant. That’s the body of Christ. And I see it here every Sunday. And I’m grateful for the reminder from Paul here in 1 Corinthians twelve, I’m grateful for the two snapshots that were so vivid that I’ve seen in recent weeks that I’ve been able to see in realtime. No matter your gift, when we all come together in all of our diversity and there’s love, it’s a supernatural experience. You can feel it. I can’t even describe it, but you just know it. It’s supernatural. God does this. It’s an indescribable blessing from the Almighty God. I think that’s why Paul urges us as he closes this section in verse 31 and sets us up for one Corinthians 13. Paul says, continue to be zealously concerned for the higher gifts but I can show you an even better way. And that’s a tease for next week. It’s all about love. Everything’s grounded in love. As the church, you and I are the very limbs and organs of Jesus. We are the body of Christ exactly like God designed it. If we embrace this, if we hold on to this, if we dream about this our best days as Christians are right in front of us.

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