Competent to Minister: Caring For Each Other in The Body of Christ

Sermon preached by Janelle Eccleston on Sunday, September 2, 2012 at Franklin Circle Christian Church (Cleveland, Ohio)

In Preparation:  When working with Scripture from 1 and 2 Corinthians, it is beneficial to have some knowledge of Paul and his work at Corinth, a commercial city of Greece where Paul has established the Corinthian Church.

One of the underlying philosophies of the Disciples of Christ’s congregations is based on John 1 3:34-3

“A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another .”

Today my message to you is to encourage all to minister to one another in the Body of Christ on the basis of what the Bible teaches us about personal ministry and the efficacy of mutual care. The Body of Christ is the church made up of all who have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. Like all bodies, it is comprised of many parts. In 1 Corinthians 12:12, Paul says, “ The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts, and though all its parts are many, they form one body.” Now, I am not an ordained minister, have no formal education in religion or theology, so some of you may ask, how can I stand before you and present this sermon? The Disciples tradition teaches us we are all ministers. This sounds very contemporary, and yet I myself was surprised when reading through a very old text book I own, written by one of our founders, Alexander Campbell in the 1830’s,at this passage:  READ SMALL PART OF ACTUAL TEXT.  So we see that the ministry of mutual care, given to edify the church, is a calling of God on the life of every believer. 1 Peter 4:10-11 begins, “ As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another…” I would say then that If you are a believer and accept Christ as your savior, you already have the primary requirement for ministry—Jesus!

If you have ever taught a Sunday school class, passed on a Gospel message to another, loved and encouraged another believer who is down, prayed with another, provided a ride to church for another, then you have ministered to another. Mutual care in the church can be a multitude of circumstances you may find yourself in, and when they build up the Body of Christ they are ministry!

Paul’s picture of the church as the Body of Christ has 2 points:

One: We are all of value and all have a part to play.

Two: We cannot do without each other. Just as a hand can’t decide to live in isolation from the rest – if it does its either a disconnected hand or it’s not a hand at all- so we can’t live in isolation from each other.

There isn’t any such thing as a Christian who lives in isolation from everybody else.  To be a Christian means that you exist in relation to others-you need others just as they need you.

God leads us to a church body where He can minister through you to each person in that body. (1 Cor. 12:18).  God does not add you to a church body so you can be an observer; He has an assignment for you and He will equip you by His presence for this work. In the Old Testament God gave specific assignments to His servants; in the New Testament, God placed each member as a vital part of a living body.  PAUSE AND VERBALLY REFLECT ON THIS. What an exciting commission from God!

Our calling is not to be solitary Christians, but to be members of a priesthood (1 Peter 2:9). When Paul learned that false teachers had caused Christians in Corinth to stumble in their faith, it caused him much strife. He told the church members at Corinth when a member rejoices, they too should rejoice, and when a fellow member weeps, they should be moved to weep as well (Cor.12:26).

The church is called to do many things, but if the church does not take care of its own members it is not functioning as the church Jesus called it to be. Because e of Christ Jesus, believers are competent to care for one another in Him. We must get rid of the notion that we must “ know it all” and step out in faith. Often we stand on the sidelines and hope that someone else, such as Pastor Allen, or an Elder, or other church leader will witness to an unbeliever new to the church or a fellow believer experiencing a problem of living, because THEY know the right words to say. The Lord will take what little a believer has to offer and enlarge it for His own purpose. It was Jesus who was able to take a young boy’s fish and bread and enlarge it to feed a multitude, and He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is able to take what we offer by faith in service to one another and use it for His glory! READ ALOUD SCRIPTURE AGAIN FROM SMALL BLUE BIBLE: Cor. 12:1-5 EXPOUND ON THIS.

Let’s look again at Aesop’s fable from Children’s minute. The body parts thought that the stomach was quite unnecessary, but soon found out much differently. We should never think that we don’t matter, that we are less important than other people in the church. We are all a part of the Body of Christ.  Just like each organ in the body depends on the others to function properly, so must the members of the Body of Christ care for each other for the church to function properly.  As you seek to follow God’s will you may believe some things about you seem to disqualify you from serving the Lord effectively. You may be sensitive because you are a new Christian or you come from a sinful past. Maybe you have little education or come from a lower economic bracket or any other thing that you believe disqualifies you. Always remember that as long as you believe in Jesus as your savior you have the best resume you need.  Don’t allow these things to intimidate you from following God’s will. Timothy had certain weaknesses which he thought hindered him from serving God confidently. He was very young and was sickly and doubted his abilities until Paul urged him to relinquish his insecurities and live a spotless life in word, conduct, love, spirit, faith and purity. Timothy goes on to lead the church at Ephesus and minister very competently.

As we move toward our 40 days of community project we must remember to care for our brothers and sisters inside of the church as well as the outside body of people. Believers are called to love one another through truly caring about one another and becoming involved, not as busy bodies, but as family members. As we begin to meet together in small groups we will get to know each other better and begin to share and worship together on a more intimate basis. As we move out into the community as a fellowship that loves God and neighbor as self we will be even more effective in our endeavors.