1 Corinthians 12: 12-30
Paul wrote more letters to the church in Corinth than any of his other churches. Scholars believe he wrote at least four more not included in our New Testament. In many ways, the Corinthian Church was the most gifted of all his churches. Due to its geography, it has always been a large and powerful Greek city, a part of the land route between Greece and the Turkey. The city was leveled by the Romans during Roman occupation, but was resettled by Julius Caesar with freed slaves who wanted to prove what they could really do as free men.
In Paul’s day, Corinth was a bustling economic crossroads, known as a famous sports center. It was know as the place to go where “you could get anything that you want,” from wealth to all manner of fornication. That a church could be planted and grow all was a miracle.
The church to survive it had to transcend current culture and customs, pagan religions and more. Even the Christians were divided into small groups. Some who had spectacular gifts like speaking in tongues felt superior to members who did not have such a gift. Some claim allegiance to one leader and some to others, even within the church that Paul tried so hard to build.
The obvious central theme running through Paul’s letter is the importance of unity. They all serve the same Lord and have received the same Holy Spirit. They cannot make it on their own. They need each other. Sure they had diversity. That was God’s plan. Diversity should strengthen them, not to divide them.
Paul uses his famous image that they are like a human body. Each member or part of the body is different but is needed for the body to function. One part cannot look at another and say, “I am better than you,” or “I do not need you.” If any part of the body does not do its part, the whole body suffers.
We are the body of Christ too. Christ is no longer in a human body in this world. So Christ lives in us. He fills in the spaces between our cells, atoms and molecules. We are his hands, his feet, and his voice. He works through us. So, like a human body, we need one another. We are different and that makes us one body, the body of Christ in the world.
As I reflected on these words from Paul this week a vivid memories came to me from my school days.
One of my best friends Charlie was given a car. It was a tired, faded 54 Chevy four door sedan. Charlie had visions of transforming it into a “cream puff” that would be a “chick magnet.” After towing it home, we received the beneficial advice from Mr. Franks, Mr. Miller and Wayne, the hot rod builder. None could agree on the problem of why the car sputtered and died as it did. But they all agreed on one thing: that the only way to find out and fix it was to take apart the engine, do the repairs and put it back together.
Charlie and I had never seen so many parts, yet alone know in what they did in an engine. Neither could we figure what was wrong just by looking at the pieces. After much neighborhood debate, it was determined that the Chevy needed a cam shaft two piston rings. Reassembly was easier we thought, since all the rusted, frozen bolts had been cracked.
After putting it back together, we wound up with a cardboard box of bolts and armatures. They seemed too small and insignificant to getting the car on the road. We ignored them. Besides, we were anxious to let the fun begin.
The moment came. Both of us pushed the car out of the garage and down the alley. After achieving the required speed, Charlie jumped in the car and popped the clutch. Miracle of miracles, it started. That was 11AM on Wednesday July 17, 1963. I’ll never forget that DAY.
We had such a strong urge to show off our victory that we drove into town. I suppose predicting the end of this story of the story is easy. The car stalled right in the middle a four lane business district. There were cars surrounding us on all sides. There was that little detail. There was no battery. It cost to much with all the other expenses. We had drift started the car at garage back home, now we were on level ground. . . The rest is reserved for another sermon.
Our church is like that engine. Each of us is a necessary part. Each of us has something vital to contribute to God’s work in this world. God provides the power when we unite, when we value one another and celebrate each other’s gifts. There are no spare parts in creation.
Even though we are individuals, we have made it through another year as the church of Jesus Christ in Broad Brook. Let us join as individuals at our Annual Meeting as one in Christ to honor and glorify of God this day and for this year to come in the life of his church.
May God bless us in our endeavors.