Third Sunday after the Epiphany (January 24, 2016)
- First reading
- Second reading
1 Corinthians 12:12-31 | NLT
12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.
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?
18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”
22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. 23 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, 24 while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.
27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. 28 Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church:
first are apostles,
second are prophets,
third are teachers,
then those who do miracles,
those who have the gift of healing,
those who can help others,
those who have the gift of leadership,
those who speak in unknown languages.
29 Are we all apostles? Are we all prophets? Are we all teachers? Do we all have the power to do miracles? 30 Do we all have the gift of healing? Do we all have the ability to speak in unknown languages? Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages? Of course not! 31 So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts.
But now let me show you a way of life that is best of all.
Last week, our scripture was from the beginning part of 1 Corinthians 12. Today we finish up the chapter. As we begin looking at this scripture today, we are reminded that this season between Epiphany and Lent is the season about the mission of Christ and subsequently the mission of the church.
This scripture reminds us again of the diversity in the church and that Jesus needs each one of us working in the church to do the thing that he has called us to do. I think churches (using that in meaning the assembly of the saints) struggle with this. We forget that Christ has given each one of us different jobs to do within his church. All of us can’t do the same thing – just as our human bodies aren’t all one part.
One of the things that I see churches struggle with is those who are in the public ministry. Yes, those people seem always to get all the acclaim. For some, they let that acclaim go to their heads. I know that in my life, it can be easy to be caught up in the acclamation. That’s why I purposely do the “behind-the-scenes” things. I figure as a pastor and worship leader that if I can’t help set up and tear down chairs and tables, and other other tasks that stay out of the limelight – then something is wrong. We should not purposely seek out the attention, but on the other hand, when we are called to do something we should do it.
God has given me a gift that I have only recently recognized. It has only been in the last couple of years that I realized the gift of music that I have been given. Yes, I can read music and play several instruments and sing, but God has given me the uncanny ability to pick up songs quickly – some of that comes from sight singing skills and ear training skills that I learned at Indiana Wesleyan University, some of it is natural talent and I believe that natural talent is a gift from God – specifically because it builds up the church. After all that is the purpose of the gifts.
The church needs all of its members and each one needs to find where they fit within the body. I see many who are not cut out for a public, up front ministry struggle and those who are not cut out for nursery or children’s ministry struggle, simply because we need a warm body. Perhaps the nursery worker needs to be up front and the up front person needs to be in the nursery or children’s ministry. It seems, at times, that everyone wants to be on the platform because it is the public ministry. Guess what? Those of us on the platform who get all those accolades have already received our reward. The real unsung heroes of the church are the children’s ministry workers, nursery workers, janitors and housekeeping people – especially those who clean the bathrooms, the greeters and safety teams, the youth workers, those who work in the kitchen. That’s just a small list of the behind the scenes jobs that sometimes go unfulfilled in the church. God has a part for you!
So what gift has God given you, specifically to build up the church. Are you desiring the gift that gets you noticed? Are you doing a job that you think is not honorable (however you define that)? Remember each one of us are part of the church — each one has a job to do. What helpful gift is God working in you?