Epiphany 3, 2013
1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
There are many horrible diseases in the world that greatly affect the human body. One of those diseases affects me personally…it is diabetes. If left uncontrolled diabetes can have adverse effects on hearing, teeth and gums, emotions, your feet, lead to heart disease, cause loss of eye sight, kidney failure, nerve damage, and much more…even death. This one disease affects the entire body. Thankfully, as a type 2 diabetic, diabetes can be controlled by healthier eating, weight-loss, exercise, and medicine.
There is another disease…which is far worse than diabetes…that effects each and every one of us…all “bodies” of all time…it is the disease of sin. Sin destroys and kills…it destroys and kills for all eternity. Not only does the disease of sin attack each of our bodies individually…it attacks the Church; the body of Christ.
Sin leads people to think that they don’t need the Church. Maybe you don’t think you need to go to some building in order to be saved; maybe you think that you don’t need to be at a place where a bunch of hypocrites meet. Sometimes we feel that we aren’t important or needed; we aren’t part of the Church and leave. Other times we don’t feel that we are worthy to be in God’s presence; that God can’t love us or forgive us. Sin always tries to pull members apart…and away from the Church. It tempts us to think that we can make it on our own, that we don’t need forgiveness, or that we can’t be forgiven. Nevertheless, sin destroys…it destroys as it takes a member away from the body; it destroys as it leads solely to hell.
Our congregation; every congregation is affected by sin. How many members have left a congregation because they did not like the Pastor…how or what the Pastor preached…or taught about? How many people have left a congregation because they didn’t feel important or wanted? How many people have left a congregation because others didn’t want to do the same thing? I’ve heard these and many other “reasons” to leave a congregation…some valid…and many poor excuses; I’m sure you have heard many as well. The saddening part is that those members who leave for the wrong reasons…often hurt the body they have left behind.
“For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (1 Corinthians 12:14-26)
Each and every member of this congregation is important and needed. Each and every member of this congregation is loved and remembered in prayers. We aren’t important because we think we are important. We aren’t loved just because we think or say we are loved. We aren’t members of our Lord’s Church because we say so either. We also cannot abandon the rest of the body and survive on our own.
“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13)
Each and every believer; Christian, family member of our Lord…is made a member of His body; the Church by baptism. God makes us members of His body; the Church. God does it. God declares us a member and gives us faith in the waters of Holy Baptism. It is God that loves each one of us…even when we fail to love each other. It is God that says we are important…even when we ignore one another. Our importance isn’t ranked upon how good of a singer we are, or how great we are with children, or if we are a good leader, a great speaker or motivator. Our importance is found in the love of our God who sent His Son to die for us that each one of us would have eternal life. God declares that everyone! Yes, everyone! is important to Him. God sent His Son to die for everyone…from conception till death…for the child in the womb to the child 102…God sent His Son to die for all. Each member of the body of Christ is important…for each was given life through the death of God’s Son.
We are many members that make up one body. We make up the body of Christ/Zion Lutheran Church. We are part of the body of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. We are part of the body of Christ…God’s Church…the True Church of all time...made up of all believers. And yes, we are all different members of that body.
“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts.” (1 Corinthians 12:27-31)
We are members that make up one body. Each member has been given different talents. Those talents are wonderful. Those talents are needed. Those talents are a gift from God. You and I have been given wonderful talents…different talents…and yet one job as the body of Christ. Through all of your talents…you get to share the wonderful news of Jesus. That wonderful news is just as important and needed no matter what part of the body you are. We need to do a better job of joining together and sharing that wonderful news. We need to do a better job at loving each other, sharing with each other, mourning with each other, and rejoicing with each other.
By God’s grace I have seen the love you have shared with each other even as you have mourned with each other. Through baptism God has made us members of His Church; He has made you members of this church. While we cannot survive on our own…we survive when we are part of the body of Christ…where Jesus is its head. We survive when we are in His Church receiving His gifts. May God strengthen your faith in this place as you receive His Word and His body and blood...giving you the very medicine you need to overcome the disease of sin. May God continue to use you…the members of His Church…to reach out to one another and to the lost. Have no fear or doubt…God has forgiven you in the death of His Son. God loves you that much! Your importance is greater than you can imagine…for God valued you so much He gave up His Son to death…for you! Amen.
Now may the peace of God which passes all human understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. Amen.