Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

We Are the Body of Christ

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We Are the Body of Christ

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We Are the Body of Christ

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This sermon shows the analogy between the human body and the Body of Christ as the Church fit so well. We, as a Body, are being scrutinized and evaluated. Others are drawing a picture of Christ from our appearance.

Sermon Notes

 Years ago, I read about someone who made a great impact on me. Dr. Paul Brand – a British surgeon, spent childhood in India, son of missionary parents. Became a surgeon in England and went to India. Pioneer of dealing with leprosy – realized Hansen’s disease not as contagious as feared. It attacks the nerves – insensitive to touch – lepers lose their limbs from lack of feeling and infections. Was knighted by queen, WHO. Wrote a book, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made. Psalms 139:13-14 Psalms 139:13-14 [13] For you have possessed my reins: you have covered me in my mother's womb. [14] I will praise you; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are your works; and that my soul knows right well.
American King James Version×
“For You formed my inward parts, you covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Dr. Brand died in 2003, but left a rich legacy.

 

Learned many things from that book – parallels physical body and spiritual body – the Church. Very inspiring -- He brings out that more than 30 times in the NT, the analogy of the Church as the Body of Christ is mentioned. Important emphasis. Want to share three examples that Dr. Brand brings out and makes a spiritual parallel.

 

#1.  Cells -- difference between the amoeba & body cell. The loyalty of the Body to the Head.

(p. 53) “When Jesus described the Christian life, often His invitation to it sounded more like a warning than a sales pitch. He spoke of “counting the cost,” of selling all and “taking up a cross” to follow. It simply is underscoring the need for loyalty, which in biological terms means the need for individual cells to offer up service for the whole body. Sometimes following the Head may involve a sore of self-denial, including some pain.”  We know that well as we live the Christian life.  

 

The Scriptures talk to us as if we were different member cells in the body.

Ephesians 4:1-6 Ephesians 4:1-6 [1] I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation with which you are called, [2] With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; [3] Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. [4] There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling; [5] One Lord, one faith, one baptism, [6] One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
American King James Version×
, “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through al, and in  you all.” We all have a spiritual identity with God – baptized, received down-payment of God’s Spirit. First deposit.

 

Loyalty is first to God the Father and Jesus Christ – the Godhead. Then we are called and incorporated into the Church, the Body of Christ. We didn’t choose it, we were chosen. Very diverse, different functions, but all very important. God knows what He is doing—sometimes easy to spot failings and defects of others—question conversion, but we don’t live in their skin. We can see fruits – evaluate – consider, but not condemn – learn from it, not do it, but not be the judge.

 

James 4:11-12 James 4:11-12 [11] Speak not evil one of another, brothers. He that speaks evil of his brother, and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law, and judges the law: but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge. [12] There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who are you that judge another?
American King James Version×
“Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?” Have to primarily judge ourselves. God is in charge. Cells placed there by Him.

 

We read in 1 Corinthians 12:12 1 Corinthians 12:12For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
American King James Version×
, “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. (Just as cells receive the same nourishment from the body). For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body?’ is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. (Not as it pleases us—He is in charge, He gives account).

 

Dr. Brand uses the following analogy, “God requires only one thing of His ‘cells’: that each person be loyal to the Head. If each cell accepts the needs of the whole Body as the purpose of its life, then the Body will live in health. He has endowed every person in the Body with the same capacity to respond to Him. In Christ’s Body, a teacher of three-year-olds is as important as the pastor, and that teacher’s work may be just as significant. A widow’s dollar can equal a millionaire’s huge donation. Shyness, beauty, eloquence, race, sophistication—none of these really matter (in the Church), only loyalty to the Head, and through the Head, to each other.”

 

He illustrates this beautifully in the difference between the independence of the single-celled amoeba and the dependent cell of the body. One lives for itself, the other, for the greater whole.

 

(p. 19) “The amoeba, a self-contained organism, alone performs all the basic functions of life, depending on other cells only when it ingest them as food. The white cell in the body, for example, though similar in construction and makeup, in a sense is far less free. A larger organism, the Body, determines its duties, and it must sometimes sacrifice its life for the sake of the organism. The amoeba flees when it senses danger, the white blood cell moves toward it. A white cell can keep alive a person like Beethoven or Newton or Einstein…or you and me...In exchange for its self-sacrifice, the individual cell can share in what I call the ecstasy of community—(the delight of the pleasure it feels in the feeling of well-being and accomplishment.)

 

“The analogy in 1 Cor. 12 conveys a more precise meaning to me because, though a hand or foot or ear cannot have life separate from the body, a cell does have that potential. It can be part of the body as a loyalist, or it can cling to its own life. Some cells do choose to live in the body, sharing its benefits while maintaining a complete independence—they become parasites or cancer cells.”

 

Regarding loyalty or disloyalty, he writes, “The body knows its hundred trillion cells by name. The first heart transplant recipients died, not because their new hearts failed, but because their bodies would not be fooled. Though the new heart cells looked in every respect like the old ones and beat at the correct rhythm, they did not belong. Nature’s code of membership had been broken. The body screams ‘foreigner!’ at imported cells and mobilizes to destroy them….The secret to membership lies locked away inside each cell nucleus, in a strand of DNA” (p. 44).

 

What is the rebellion in the body? “The cells function beautifully except for one flaw—when they have become disloyal. In their activity they disregard the body’s needs…They multiply without any checks on growth, spreading rapidly throughout the body, choking out normal cells. White cells, armed against foreign invaders, will not attack the body’s own mutinous cells. Physicians fear no other malfunction more deeply: it is called cancer…Each is a healthy, functioning cell, but disloyal, no longer obeying the Head nor acting to benefit the rest of the body” (p. 59).

 

1 John 2:19-21 1 John 2:19-21 [19] They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. [20] But you have an unction from the Holy One, and you know all things. [21] I have not written to you because you know not the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.
American King James Version×
Some are part of the body, but either were disguised or rebel—God’s Spirit key.

“How can any organism, the Body of Christ, be composed of such diversity attain even a semblance of unity? As the doubts rumble inside me, a sober and quieting voice replies, “You have not chosen Me. I have chosen you.” The basis for our unity within Christ’s Body begins not with our similarity, but with our diversity.” So we must learn to cooperate with each other & not be judgmental.

 

#2. The bone structure and God’s laws – solidness and flexibility.

Dr. Brand goes on, “The newborn baby has 350 bones which will gradually fuse together into the 206 of adult humans. But many of the baby’s bones are soft and pliable, hardly showing the qualities of bone. The birth event would be impossible if a baby were not so compressible and flexible….No researcher has yet discovered a material as well suited for the body’s needs as bone, which comprises only one-fifth of our body weight. In 1867 an engineer demonstrated that the arrangement of bone cells forms the lightest structure, made of least material, to support the body’s weight. No one has successfully challenged his findings. As the only hard material in the body, bone possesses incredible strength, enough to protect and support every other cell….The most important feature of bone is its hardness….The Body of Christ’s followers also needs a framework of hardness to give it shape, and I see the Church’s doctrine as being just such a skeleton. Inside the Body lives a core of truth that never changes—the laws governing our relationships to God and to other people.” These are God’s laws throughout the Bible.

 

“In the Body of Christ also the quality of hardness is not designed to burden us, rather, it would free us. Rules governing behavior work because, like bones, they are hard….The Ten Commandments, (teaches us) to learn something of the true nature of laws. Rules soon seem as liberating in social activity as bones are in physical activity.

(P. 84) Example of usefulness:  “The first four commandments….(read section).

That is the way we should look at the Ten Commandments – bones that support God’s truths and flexible to adapt to modern society.

 

#3. The Skin – sensitivity to the touch –Arthur Rubinstein – dexterity – was able to meet him.

p. 163 “Seventy separate muscles contribute to hand movements. Isaac Newton: “In absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God’s existence.” In 40 years of study, I have never read of a technique in improving a normal, healthy hand.” Perfectly, exquisitely formed.

 

p. 118, “There is no organ like the skin. Averaging a mere nine pounds, it flexes and folds and crinkles around joints, facial crags, and gnarled toes. It is smooth as a baby’s stomach here, rough like a crocodile there.”

Why we believe in creation and not evolution: p. 231, “The skin is the largest organ of your body, and one of the most important. It has an average area of from 16 to 20 square feet. There are 2,000,000 sweat glands scattered over the surface of the skin—500 to every square inch, except on your palms and soles, where there are about 2,000 to every square inch! Your skin is a combination of ‘leather jacket’ and a ‘raincoat’ to serve and protect you from the elements. It is an ‘armor’ of ‘overlapping fish-like scales to protect the tissues of your body.’ On the other hand, it is full of holes (sweat pores) and yet it doesn’t leak! Consider this miracle: your skin is so ingeniously made that it will give off sweat, but will not permit water to enter your body even though you are immersed in it for a long time!

 

Brand, p. 119, “More than any other species, our skin is designed not so much for appearance as for relating, for being touched. And this aspect of skin summons up the basic function of skin with the Body of Christ. In that Body, skin becomes the presence of Christ Himself, the membrane lining that defines our community and enshrouds God’s Body in the world. The analogy of skin—soft, warm, and touchable—conveys the message of a God who is eager to relate in love to His creation. Christ was saying to us: Let the world first see the beauty and feel the softness and warmth of the Christian community, and there let it realize the underlying internal frameworld.  As the world encounters Christ’s Body, what is its texture, its appearance and ‘feel’—its skin? Do people see ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? We judge people by appearance….In the same way, we as a Body are being scrutinized and evaluated. Others are drawing a picture of Christ from our appearance. The atmosphere in a Church will, skinlike, reveal the substance underneath.” Important to maintain our sensitivity to needs.

 

It reminds me of the Feast of Tabernacles – comments made. In Hawaii, Maui Theatre, shops, hotels, long for us to come—example set, exuding happiness and courtesy in general.

End – 1 Corinthians 12:24-27 1 Corinthians 12:24-27 [24] For our comely parts have no need: but God has tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacked. [25] That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. [26] And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. [27] Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
American King James Version×
We all have a part – let’s remember whose Body it is, whose running it, let’s be thankful and let’s do our part as a loyal, obedient & sensitive member glory and honor of God.

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