God Doesn’t Want Your Money, But God Does Want You in Ministry
In the last two weeks, Matt and I have explored the question of what God wants from us.
God does not want our money but there are a few things God does want.
Two weeks ago, I talked about how God wants us to worship.
God wants us to come together and care for our relationship with God.
Last week, Matt talked about how God wants us to do mission.
God calls us to care for the world around us.
Together those messages teach us that God calls us to look upward and look outward.
But God also wants us to look inward.
We are called to care about our community of faith.
Where do I get that?
Paul talks about it in today’s text.
1 Corinthians 12: 12-31
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
14 Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15If the foot were to 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. 16And if the ear were to 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. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21The 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.’ 22On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.
I am old enough to remember the Steelers of the 70s.
Here are some names.
Chuck Noll, Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Rocky Blier, Lynn Swan, John Stallworth, Joe Green, L.C. Greenwood, Dwight White, Jack Ham, Jack Lambert.
The defense was called the “Steel Curtin”.
Four of the next Super Bowls were theirs.
But while we can fondly recall all those big names who were always on camera during the game, what about all those other guys on the team?
The guys whose job it was to play the role of the other team in practice.
And what about the five interior linemen who opened holes for Harris and Blier and kept Bradshaw on his feet?
And then there are those guys who came in when one of the “stars” went down?
Who remembers their names?
Who was the rookie quarterback in 1976 who stepped in for an injured Bradshaw and set an NFL record for winning his first 6 games started?
Yeah, that was Mike Kruczek.
But in the end, they all got rings.
Because they, too, were critical to the success of the team.
Everyone was needed.
No one was expendable.
A job for everyone and everyone had a job.
When everyone does their job – well – four Super Bowls.
That is what Paul is talking about in our text today.
He is promoting that kind of attitude in the church in Corinth.
Here is some background.
Paul is writing to the Corinthian church.
It is a church Paul planted some years before and with which he remains in contact.
Paul has received several reports that there is trouble in the Corinth faith community.
One of the reports is that some members of the church believe themselves to be more important than others because they have been given the spiritual gift of the ability to speak in tongues.
They look at themselves as superior.
Superior to those who can’t speak in tongues.
What this means to Paul is that the Corinthian church is divided with internal squabbles about hierarchy.
Who is essential?
Who is insignificant?
Who is vital?
Who is expendable?
Kind of like last year when a couple of Steelers decided they were more important than the mission of the team.
To Paul, this is what is happening in Corinth.
I like the way Cynthia Jarvis puts it:
Clearly there are those in the [Corinthian]community who have been made to feel as though they do not belong; there are others who think they alone embody Christian existence; and there are a few who out-and-out say to the most vulnerable, “I have no need of you.”
Each member of the community of faith in Corinth, the body of Christ, has a gift, a job, a role.
All are unique.
All are necessary.
None are expendable.
And no one has all of them.
When one role, job or gift is missing, the community suffers.
But the community then steps in and fill the gap, like Kruczek did.
No one can do it all, and so all have to work together for the common good.
Which means that if we are be effective and a body, we must look not only upward and outward, but inward.
We must look inward to identify all the gifts of the community.
To identify our own gifts.
To fill all the jobs and roles necessary for the community to survive and thrive.
Only when we do, we able to do what Paul calls us to do.
Live and work for the common good.
So, we need to take care of our “body”.
We need to care for each other.
This is how ministry is done.
And God calls us to do it.
As I was writing this, I was reminded of our work in Chiapas this past summer.
We joined that church community for a week.
The task for the community that week was to construct a five room building for classrooms and an office.
Every day over 100 members of that church showed up to work.
There was a job for everyone, young and old, men and women, big and small, skilled and unskilled.
Some were masons, some were carpenters, most were laborers.
The laborers mixed cement and hauled it to the masons.
Others sorted out lumber form a discard pile to give to the carpenters to construct the frames.
Others carried rocks and blocks and construction materials up the hillside to the work site.
Others sorted the stones and stacked the blocks.
Still others got the water from the cistern to make the cement.
Still others cooked food for the workers.
On Wednesday of that week, I was approached by Randy Duvall, our liaison with the Chiapas community.
He told me that they were out of blocks.
No one thought we would get as far as we did.
If we wanted to finish the job, we needed money to buy more blocks.
Randy asked if JMPC could help.
Happily, we were able to fund the purchase of enough to finish the work.
Every single person can now look at the finished building and say this:
“In 50 years, I might be dead, but this building will still be a place where God is worshiped, and a community of faith survives and thrives.”
That is the kind of thing Paul is talking about.
A job for everyone and everyone with a job.
So, what’s your job here at JMPC?
What is your role?
What is your gift?
What are you doing for the common good?
Are you leading?
Are you working?
Are you envisioning?
Are you financing?
Most of you do.
And I thank you.
But we need to get more folks involved.
We need to give everyone the opportunity to contribute something.
Can we, together, fund a $418,000 budget?
This week you will receive a letter with financial information and an Estimate of Giving card.
Please pray and decide what you can do to help us financially in our ministries.
Bring the card next week when we will consecrate our gifts and celebrate with a hot dog and chili luncheon.
But we also need physical, intellectual and spiritual help.
Can we encourage everyone to participate in our administration?
Can we get folks to help with the buildings and grounds?
Can we find the people we need to carry our many opportunities for ministry in our congregation?
Even if it’s just to encourage and support.
Just showing up helps.
What can each of us contribute?
Remember, if there is something going on here at JMPC, someone made it happen.
Every member of JMPC is essential.
No one is expendable.
Come and be a part of it.
It’s our ministry.
And God calls us to it.