Today we will be talking about my favorite subject and that is that everything is in order. If you are familiar with me, you are aware, that I like to have everything in order. I love having everything in place. I like to know where everything is when I want it, and I believe there is a place for everything and everything has its place. And so, today we will be reading from 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, and I love this, because there is nothing that is more fulfilling in life than when God actually agrees with you, and when you actually go to the Word of God, and you know that He and you are on the same page. So, today I want you to see how the apostle Paul and myself are in full agreement under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In Holy Scripture right here, God Himself says that there’s a place for everything, and everything has its place.
And so, 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 says: “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. 13 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.
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? 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.
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, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that 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. NIV
Most of you know that I’m from Fairfield and even though I don’t ski I have a perfect view of Ski Liberty in my front yard. Of course there is not that much snow but a lot of people seem to enjoy skiing there, even though I never have. The closest I ever get to skiing is watching the downhill skiing on the Olympic games. You know, all I can think of is the damage of a spill and the broken bones. I watch those people cartwheeling down the hill and just shake my head. It reminds me of verse 26 and makes me think about the application “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it”
You see, the application is greater than our own individual bodies. The application is for the Church because the church also is full of parts. And the Scripture tells us, that every part matters, and in verse 21, that those parts of the body that seem weaker are indispensable. You see, there’s a whole lot of unseen parts, indispensable parts, but very essential parts. Yet we often think that it’s who you see up front on a Sunday, that’s the only important part of the body, but the fact of the matter is, there are parts that are behind the scenes, parts that I recognize and count on, that have the capacity to entirely immobilize the church. And without them I would not be able to do what I do!
And in the same way, if you get up and think it doesn’t matter if I go to church on Sunday. It doesn’t matter if I go to church on Wednesday night… if I miss the new Bible study on Revelation. No one is going to miss me, or my tithe… no one is going to notice. I mean, it’s not like I’m a foot or a hand or an ear. It’s only the pastor that everyone sees. Or the worship team that’s really important. And since I can’t sing, or preach, it really doesn’t matter if I come. What does it really matter if I come and greet? What does it really matter if I help at all?
Well the Bible tells us that every part matters, everything matters, because it all matters to God. You simply not showing up and taking your place matters, because the Bible tells us that God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted him to be (1 Corinthians 12.18). And I believe, that if we as the body of Christ understand the importance of this, we would not diminish the value of ourselves or others, realizing that God has set each of us in place, and simply because we’re not in a prominent place does not mean we’re not as important. And God says, “In fact I have arranged the parts in the body every one of them just as I wanted them to be.” So, every part matters, each one is important… important enough that the Creator of the universe would choose to create them, to plant them, and put them in a place. And so God says, “I have arranged you, placed you, and planted you, every one of you, just as I wanted you to be.”
And the Bible tells us, in Psalm 92, verse 13, that those planted in the house of the Lord will flourish. Not those that attend from time to time, not those who attend only on Easter and Christmas, but those that are planted, whose roots are deep, and who are walking in their place, have taken their position, and are doing their part in the church. They will be like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season, and whose leaf does not weather. The psalmist says, “Whatever he does prospers” (Psalms 1:3).
Would you agree, that this church is of great influence and impact in this community? But there are 5000 people in the surrounding area. We have the opportunity this church to grow, to be more effective, and to be a potent force for the gospel of Jesus Christ. But I think if we can see in the spirit, we’re really just kind of limping around compared to our potential, simply because so many members have diminished the value of the place in which God has planted them, and think it really doesn’t matter. They think that my service, my contribution, my attendance, my signing up to help serve in the kids ministry, youth ministry, or perhaps in a community-based service really doesn’t matter. And God says, “Do you realize how important you are and how much you’re hurting my body?” You know, like, any of you ever have crutches? It is inconvenient and awkward isn’t it?
If we could get a picture of Christ Community Church hobbling around on crutches, we might understand better what happens in the spiritual realm when one part of the body has to compensate for the other. You know, when one part of the body, is carrying all the weight, putting forth all the effort, and doing all the work. And so we may think we’re doing a lot of good here, but there are some people who are carrying a whole lot of the weight. What ends up happening, is half of the body ends up being burned out, tired, and weary, not because they’re necessarily doing too much, but because, there carrying more than their part of the load. So they’re giving more than they should. They’re serving more than they should. And they’re trying to carry the whole rest of the body.
But God’s plan was that we would flourish where we had been planted. That none of us would grumble and complain that we don’t want to be a foot… we don’t want to be a hand… we don’t want to be ear… Then none of us will be getting burnt out. Nobody would be falling apart. And the body of Christ itself would have so much momentum, so much strength, that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church of the living God. Yet there so many times, when we treat the body of Christ like an NFL football team. We think that were all free agents. But there are no free agents in the body of Christ. God plants us in a certain place. And He sets us in that place to flourish and prosper. He plants us here to walk in our place, to take our position, and do our part. And if we could understand that, we would stop trying to chase that career, we could walk in our calling, and allow God to open doors that no man could shut. We would understand that our confidence, our security, and our promotion comes from God and from God alone. All we have to do is get in that place!
So, imagine, then, if the foot thought, well I don’t want to be a foot. I want to be an elbow. Or no, I’d rather be a mouth. You know that’s ridiculous right? But if you could see as God sees the body of Christ, we’ve got a whole lot of hands that are trying to be ears, or they’re trying to be eyes, because they simply won’t embrace their place that God has assigned them. I believe what the Spirit of God is trying to impress upon us here is that if we would simply walk in the place God has assigned us, there’s grace there, and with that grace comes an enablement, a flourishing, and a prosperity. And so in this passage, God is trying to encourage us to accept where he has put us and the assignment he’s given us.
You see, if we were to stop trying to disconnect from the place, because we want someone to recognize our gift. We would discover that the gift only has value in relation to the body in which it has been placed. If we understood that, then we wouldn’t need to go out there chasing dreams, building a name or title, forever frustrated, looking for some kind of affirmation, because God has already placed you in his house. He’s set you in his house and says, “I’ve already given it to you… take your place.”
Here’s what the Lord is saying to us, “If you took your place, took your position, and walked in it doing you’re part this body would have more power, more strength, and more determination. Together we would advance the Kingdom of God even further and all the glory would go to our Lord Jesus Christ! So always the goal is not us, not our recognition, not concern of our place, but the goal is to bring glory to Jesus. And so whether we are working in the nursery, praying, teaching, or playing on the worship team, we want to direct everyone’s attention, we want to point everyone to the Lord Jesus Christ. You see, when the body’s able to function properly, humbly, and effectively, the body’s able to give glory to God.
But what we often do is, we confuse a position with a place, and sometimes here’s the deal, you’ve got to go to a place you don’t want to go, to end up in the place that God ultimately wants to take you. And so I don’t know what your place is right now, but maybe you’ve got a couple kids at home, and you are teaching, changing diapers, and picking up. Maybe you’re bored, working a job where you know you have so much more potential. Maybe you’re serving in an area of ministry and in your heart you know you could be doing greater things for God. Well, God says, “I’ve got you in place.” God is preparing you for the very thing he’s already prepared for you! He’s actually doing something within you now so that he can do something through you tomorrow. God is preparing you so that you will be in position to go to the next place.
And so many of us are out there, you know, we’re chasing the position we want, rather than accepting the place that God has for us. And so when God looks to re-assign you, and he goes to that place where he assigned you, just like in 1 Samuel. This is an amazing story, illustrating this point, the prophet Samuel came to anoint the next king. So following the instructions of the Lord, he had Jesse bring all of his sons before him. And verse 10 tells us, “Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” So we asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” "There is still the youngest," Jesse answered, "but he is tending the sheep." (1 Samuel 16:5-11). You see, David was in his place, he was out in the field looking after sheep. He was where God had assigned him. And God knew where to find him. Samuel didn’t but God did. And so Samuel said, "Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives" (1 Samuel 16:11).
And I want to close with this final point. If God has assigned you to vacuum, to wash floors, to work in the nursery, or to serve coffee, that’s fine! God will come and find you when it’s time for your promotion. This morning I want you to walk in your place, take your position, and do your part! You see, you matter to God, and if he has planted you and assigned you, stay in that place. God will find you at the right time. If he put you there, he will equip you there, and keep you there until the appropriate time. There’s enough grace for you in that place. All you need to do is accept the place that God has for you.
Now some of you, might be feeling frustrated and impatient, because you haven’t accepted your place. You’re still looking everywhere, you’re wondering when God is going to open that door? You’re wondering what God is going to do? But let me assure you this morning, if you simply walk through the door God has opened for you, if you’ll take your place, you’ll be shocked with where God will take you. But you’ve got to walk in your place right now!
Let me give you one more illustration before we close. Jesus, the night before his murder, had to accept his place, a place that He didn’t want, in order to have what He ultimately wanted. The Bible says, He went to the cross for the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2). He was at the Mount of Olives with his disciples, he was praying in anguish, his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground, and he asked,
"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done" (Luke 22:42).
What if we, in the body of Christ, would choose to model the example of Christ to the watching world? What if we were to say? “I’m going to stay in this place. I’m going to keep fighting for this marriage. I’m going to keep looking after these kids. I’m going to submit to my boss. I’m going to keep serving in that ministry.” What if we said? “It’s tough. I don’t want to do this. But Lord, not my will, but yours be done.”
You see, if all the weaker, less honorable, and unpresentable parts of the body would simply say, “I’m going to accept my place, walk in it, and trust God with the result” the potential of this church to impact our community and world is huge! And my prayer for us as a church, is that every part of the body that has not yet taken their place, would take their place, and strengthen the body, so that God might be glorified in His Church and in Emmitsburg. And for every one of you who are serving, I thank you and pray that you feel blessed today to be in your place. For those of you who are not yet making a difference for the glory of God in the church I pray that you seize this opportunity, that you would take your place, and do your part to make a difference. In Jesus name.
Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church
303 West Lincoln Avenue
Emmitsburg, MD 21727
January 18, 2015