Jan. 24, 2010
Third Sunday after Epiphany
1 Cor. 12:12-31a
Life in the body of Christ—the church—is characterized by unity and energy. At least it should be. Paul looked at the church and knew full well that potential
and reality often do not match. In the first 11 chapters of 1 Corinthians, he dealt with a host of problems in the church—divisions into various parties, sexual
immorality by leaders, people suing each other in court, idol sacrifice, members getting drunk before worship and others. If anyone ever had the right to be
pessimistic about the church, it would have been Paul!

However, he knew something that others may have forgotten. The church is not just another social club or civic organization. It is the embodiment of the living
Christ. As such, it is alive in ways that may not be obvious to the casual observer.

I. The Church Is Unified by the Spirit
(1 Corinthians 12:12-17)
“For we are all baptized by one Spirit into one body.” Our baptism into the body of Christ by the Spirit is the glue that holds the church together. We are in this together, bonded by our common experience.

Consider the phrase found on the great seal of the United States—E pluribus unum, Latin for “Out of many, one.” The idea expressed is that from many states
comes a unified nation. That concept also describes the church. Out of all backgrounds—”Jews or Greeks”—the church is one in the Spirit. From various social
situations—”slave or free”—the church is one in the Spirit.

Like a human body made up of various parts that work together to form a unified whole, the church has diverse members who come together in the Spirit to form
the whole.

II. The Church Is Enabled by the Father
(1 Corinthians 12:18-21)
Part of the miracle we call church is the fact that the various members are able to hold together to accomplish its goals of serving God and mankind. This
happens when God pulls the various parts together to do His work. As Paul put it, “God has arranged the part in the body, every one of them, just as He
wanted them to be.”

Too often, we are like children squabbling over toys in the playroom. “I wanted the red ball, not the blue one!” When you read the entire letters to the
Corinthians, you see spiritual toddlers complaining that someone else got the spiritual gift they wanted. “I wanted the gift of prophecy, but all I got was mercy.”
Can we believe that God knew what He was doing when He brought you into this fellowship? Can you take seriously His wisdom to form you into the person you are now and are becoming? As 1 Corinthians 12:26 puts it, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”

III. The Church Is Energized by the Son
(1 Corinthians 12:27-31)
Most churches have so many activities and ministries that people have trouble keeping up with them. But from where does the energy to serve the church come? It comes from the living presence of Christ. After all, the church is “the body of Christ,” as we learn from 1 Corinthians 12:27.

We can relate to the little boy who sat in church with his family. Looking around the sanctuary, he spotted a bronze plaque with names on it. He asked his father what that was. The father whispered that those are the names of church members who died in the service. The little boy pondered that for a moment and then
whispered back, “Which service, the morning or the evening?”

Paul listed various spiritual gifts and functions available to the church—apostles, prophets, teachers, healers, administrators, helpers and others. Each is given the ability by the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

So the body of Christ is alive and active in the world. God has given it life and energy and has distributed the ability to do its work. Thank you for being part of it.

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