Buildings & Bodies (I Am A Church Member Part 2 Sermon Notes)
Anybody like to play Jenga?
You try to build the tower as high as possible without it falling over. Eventually there becomes empty space, weak areas. You may even begin to remove the foundation. Stress is placed on other areas of the tower. The more the blocks are moved and not stacked tightly the more stress is put on the building and ultimately it wobbles, and eventually it crashes to the ground.
Buildings don’t stand unless all the blocks are strong, steadfast and working in unison. One block cracks, more stress is placed on the other block. But when they stay together the building stands.
Peter describes the church as a building. A building with a solid foundation. Christ is the foundation.
In 1 Peter, the Apostle is writing to the believes in what is now Turkey. They were Gentiles, that means that they weren’t Jews. They din’t grow up under the rules and laws of the Old Testament, they were superstitious, they worshiped false deities, and they were learning how to live in the Light and Truth of Christ. They’d accepted his teachings, his miracles and his death and resurrection. They were followers of Christ. But they were still learning how to be disciples and how to be the Church.
So Peter writes them a letter.
1 Peter 2:1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.
Wow. So this church, these people have a few issues.
They hold grudges.
They are deceitful.
They act phony.
They are jealous and envious of others.
There talk bad about each other.
This church, these people, these church are in trouble.
A church can’t stand, it will crash down like a Jenga tower when these 5 sins run rampant in the church.
Look at these churches whose member didn’t function as a building or a body.
August 1999 Landover, Maryland
100 years of Christian fellowship, unity, and community outreach ended last Tuesday in an act of congregational discord. Holy Creek Baptist Church was split into multiple factions.
The source of dissension is a piano bench which still sits behind the 1923 Steinway piano to the left of the pulpit. Members and friends at Holy Creek Baptist say that the old bench was always a source of hostility. People should have seen this coming.
At present, Holy Creek Congregation will be having four services each Sunday. There has been an agreement mediated by an outside pastor so that each faction will have it’s own separate service with it’s own separate pastor. Since the head pastor is not speaking to the associate pastors, each will have their own service, which will be attended by factioned members. The services are far enough apart that neither group will come into contact with the other. An outside party will be moving the piano bench to different locations and appropriate positions, between services, so as to please both sides, and avoid any further conflict that could result in violence.
In Dwight Pentecost’s commentary on the book of Philippians he refers to an occurrence of a church split in Dallas Texas. The church split was so bad that it involved a legal suit of one side of the church against the other over who had the right of owner ship of the church property. The case went all the way to the State Supreme Court. It was dismissed on the grounds that the State Supreme Court was not going to deal with inner church issues but they would have to be dealt with by the denominational church governing body. The matter was finally settled with one side being given the ownership rights to the property. During this period of time a local news paper reporter did some investigating on the cause of this church split. He discovered that it all started during a church dinner. Apparently one of the church elders was offended when the portion of food given to him was not as large as the young person next to him. This whole church split started because someone was offended over such a petty thing.
Grudges, Deceit, Hypocrisy, Envy, Slander. It kills the church.
And when the church is broken down, evangelism suffers, sin spreads, repentance slows and salvations stop.
Why is it that people don’t except Christ. It’s not Jesus, it’s the Church.
But the answer isn’t less church, it good church. Righteous church. Holy church. Loving church. Forgiving church. Merciful church. The church needs the foundation of Christ to be the church that wins souls.
People slandering one another, holding grudges, being jealous of each other, being envious of even the Pastor. It will destroy the church and it will undermine the gospel of Jesus!
So what is Peter’s solution?
Grow Up! Grow in your salvation. Get into the word. Grow spiritually.
2 kLike newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual lmilk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—3 if indeed you have mtasted that the Lord is good.
Basically he says, I’m not even sure you are Christians by the way you are behaving. But if you really have known and experienced Christ, live like it and Grow Up. Not just for yourself, but for the church and for the gospel.
Now we get to Peter’s analogy of the building.
4 As you come to him, a living stone nrejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 oyou yourselves like living stones are being built up as pa spiritual house, to be qa holy priesthood, rto offer spiritual sacrifices sacceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Peter says we are part of a Building whose foundation was rejected, but the foundation is our only hope.
The foundation, the cornerstone, the thing that keeps up square and solid and upright, and strong is Jesus.
And we are part of the Building. We are being built into a house. The purpose of the house reflect the goodness of God to the world.
6 For it stands in Scripture:
t“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, uand whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
x“A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.”
They stumble because they disobey the word, yas they were destined to do.
9 But you are za chosen race, aa royal bpriesthood, ca holy nation, da people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you eout of darkness into fhis marvelous light. 10 gOnce you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
The mission of the Church, the building, as Peter puts it for the Church to proclaim the excellencies of the one who called us out of Darkness and into Marvelous light.
And Peter doesn’t make it individualistic.
It’s not, that the world would only see you shining light, but that the world would see the Church shining light.
Notice the community he is talking about.
a Preisthood, not a Preist.
A Nation, not an individual.
A People, not a person.
God’s people. The church. We are a building and group who rely on the strength and the perseverence of those beside us.
But Scripture doesn’t stop the theme of interconnectivity, it actually goes even deeper into the theme.
Look at 1 Corinthians 12. Look at what Paul says about the church.
1 Corinthians 12:1 For just as ithe body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, jso it is with Christ. 13 For kin one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—lJews or Greeks, slaves4 or free—and mall were made to drink of one Spirit.
14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 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. 16 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. 17 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? 18 But as it is, nGod arranged the members in the body, each one of them, oas he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts,5 yet one body.
21 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.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 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, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, pall rejoice together.
Paul is saying 3 basic things
1- that every member of the church is important,
2- and every member of the church has a Spiritual gift
3- and every member of the church should use that gift for the other ember of the body.
I believe Paul would lay down some groundwork though on who can be a member.
Firstly, a member must be a Christian. No one that hasn’t been born again can be a member because member of the body have Spiritual gifts. You only have Spiritual gifts is you are a Christian. And every Christian has a Spiritual gift.
Secondly, a member should adhere to the basic doctrines of the church.
Thirdly, a member will respect godly Shepherds.
Fourthly, a member will support his local church. Time. Talent. Tithe.
27 Now qyou are the body of Christ and individually rmembers of it.28 And sGod has appointed in the church first tapostles, second uprophets, third teachers, then vmiracles, then wgifts of healing, xhelping, yadministrating, and vvarious kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But zearnestly desire the higher gifts.
And I will show you a still more excellent way.
So Paul says You are a body.
You need the other Body Parts.
The eye needs the ear, the ear needs the hand, the hand needs the foot. Paul is emphatic that we need each other.
And he’s talking about local churches here, not the universal church.
He’s saying that each member of the local church is important to the work of the gospel, the work of the church and the edification of the body.
The work of the Gospel: evangelism, discipleship and prayer
The work of the organizational church: greeting, cleaning, administrating, clerical work, maintenance work.
The edification of the body: Helping the hurting, praying for the sick, word of wisdom or knowledge, hospitality, preaching, worship…
Each member in a local body is equipped to do something the local church.
And some are equipped to to help the universal church.
But it all starts local. You’ve heard “politics is local”, well church is local.
And the only way the church functions the way it is intended to function is found in the next chapter.
The end of Chapter 12 Paul says, “And I will show you a still more excellent way.”
He’s talking about the church. A more excellent way then the church at Corinth was operating, they were envious, sexually twisted, hypocrites and slanderers. Paul said there’s a more excellent way. Church is supposed to be better than this.
I agree with Paul. Church is supposed to be better than this.
Church is supposed to be better than world.
Church is supposed to be different than the world.
Church is supposed to be a taste of the Kingdom of God.
There’s a more excellent way.
Chapter 13 tells us the more excellent way. The way church should be better.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have aprophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, bso as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 cIf I give away all I have, and dif I deliver up my body to be burned,1 but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 eLove is patient and fkind; love gdoes not envy or boast; it his not arrogant 5 or rude. It idoes not insist on its own way; it jis not irritable or resentful;2 6 it kdoes not rejoice at wrongdoing, but lrejoices with the truth.7 mLove bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, eendures all things.
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For nwe know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but owhen the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 Forpnow we see in a mirror dimly, but qthen face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as rI have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
We read this at weddings, we put it on greeting cards, we put it on pictures and hang it our homes, we read it on Valentine’s day. But the passage is for the church. It’s for the local church. The church should be loving.
I want to read it again with that in mind,
4 eThe Church should be patient and fkind; the church should not envy or boast; it should not be arrogant 5 or rude. Members of the church should not insist on their own way; The church should not be irritable or resentful;2 6 k the church should not rejoice at wrongdoing, but lrejoice with the truth.7 mMembers of the church should bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, eendures all things. Because the church has the love of God.
See the church isn’t supposed to be individualistic. The church is supposed to be a building with many stones, a body with many parts. All coming together for each other and for the cause of the gospel of the kingdom.
King David, a man who understood the power of unity and the severe cost of malice, sums it up beautifully when he writes,
Behold, how good and pleasant it is
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on hthe collar of his robes!
which falls on kthe mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord lhas commanded the blessing,
There is anointing is unity of the church.
There is God’s favor.
There is blessing.
There is life abundant.
The unity of believers.