DARING TO CONNECT by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson
Romans 12:4-8 4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
Overall Background: From Romans chapter 1 to Romans 12:3, Paul has been focused on the individual Christian life –
– What does it mean for you to be saved?
– What does it mean for you to be dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord?
– What does it mean for you to be a slave of righteousness?
– What does it mean for you to be led by the Holy Spirit?
This is very important. Unless you have this personal, vital, living relationship with Jesus Christ, nothing else will matter.
But now Paul is shifting gears. Now he begins to talk about the larger group of Christians. Now he begins to talk about our place and purpose among other Christians. Now he begins to deal with our role in the church – the body of Christ. God did not save us just so we can get our ticket to heaven. As they say – “get our fire insurance.” He has called us to interact and relate with the church.
Application: This message is easy to preach but hard to apply. Why?
– Many people have been burnt by the church (bad experiences, conflicts, hurt feelings, control issues, ego mania, inner circles, hypocrisy, judgmental spirit). Why go to church if all it’s going to do is make you feel bad?
– Many people have found the church to be an interruption, time-consuming, demanding, and exhausting (another item added to their already overloaded life). Why go to church and add more on your plate? Why be responsible for more?
– Many people have found the church to be outdated, irrelevant, pointless, a relic of the past, ineffective, inefficient, powerless, answering questions that no one’s asking, and making no difference. Why go to church if there’s no difference?
I titled this message “Daring to Connect” because contrary to all the things I listed, the church still matters and will remain until Jesus comes for her. Throughout history – atheists, agnostics, and those who have hated the church claimed that it was the end of the church in their generation. That French skeptic Voltaire, who lived in the 1700s was sure that within hundred years, Christianity and the church would be a relic of the past. Did you know that, after his death, his house in Geneva was purchased by the Swiss Bible Society? Did you also know that on the same printing press that Voltaire printed his anti-church literature, the Bible was printed?
In a time like this, we are called to be “Connected” with the Church – the Body of Believers.
There are 3 things that we will see in this message –
I. RECOGNIZE THAT YOU ARE INTERCONNECTED.
4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function,
Background: Paul uses the imagery of the human body to make a very significant point. My arm is connected to my torso. My head is connected to my neck. My ears are connected to my head and so on. We are born connected.
For e.g. How many of y’all remember having Mr. Potato Head growing up? All the parts came together but you could take them apart and then use different accessories. They still sell those.
Paul does not say that you ought to go get connected. He does not say that it will good for you if you were connected. He says – “You are connected!”
Listen again to verse 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ,
The moment we are born again, we are not only saved but we are also connected to a larger group of Christians.
What’s more? Listen again to verse 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.
Once again, the eyes cannot exist independently of the brain. The fingers cannot function independently of the arm. Every cell is connected to the other cell. What is cancer? Cancer is an out of control cell growth. When cells begin to divide uncontrollably and form lumps or mass of tissue called tumor. A tumor can interfere with the normal body functions. When it starts moving through the body through the blood or lymph systems and starts making new blood vessels, it has become malignant. Then if it starts invading and destroying other healthy tissues, we call that metastasis.
I am being very simplistic but the point is this – that cell is no longer “individually members of one another.” If I start despising you and try to do away with you, cancer is on the way. Don’t misunderstand – As long as we live this side of heaven, there will be conflict.
For e.g. Ever accidentally poked yourself in the eye? Ever hit your funny bone? The door jamb didn’t jump up and thump you on the funny bone. You walked into it. By the way, I don’t know why they call it funny bone. I’ve never laughed after hitting it!
There are Christians who hop from church to church. They have no intention of ever connecting with other Christians. Why? They got thumped. I call them funny bone Christians. You can’t keep running from other Christians. You are connected.
Let me add one more thing to this – when one part of you hurt, everything else hurts. Try breaking your little toe, it will give you a headache. There’s nothing you can do with a broke toe but wear it.
Application: Did you get the point? We are already interconnected. We are individually members of one another. Are you saved? I am connected to you. You are connected to me. We are individually members of one another.
II. REMEMBER THAT YOU HAVE AN IMPORTANT ROLE.
6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them:
Background: I know I used the word “role” instead of gift. I did that because we are more familiar with that than the other. Bottom line: You have something that God has ordained for only you to do. No one else can do. I can’t do your task as well as you can. You cannot do my task as well as I can. Just as the kidneys cannot walk and the eyes cannot digest food. Don’t envy the gift that God has given somebody else. Also, make room for others to use their gifts. It’s all by His grace.
Now Paul gives us a sample list at the end of verse 6 “…if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
Background: What’s the use of these gifts? Every single gift represents a ministry that Jesus did on earth.
– It reminds us that we are cooperating with God (leading someone to Christ means you have changed their eternal destiny).
– It fills us with great joy and purpose that we are helping others (Kindle ministry last summer)
– It teaches us to respect and appreciate each other (the ladies helping out in the nursery are just as important as the people on the stage).
Application: What has God called you to do that you have refused to cooperate with Him? Where is the body suffering because you are not doing your part?
III. REPRESENT JESUS TO EACH OTHER.
he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
Background: The word for mercy (eleeo) is found 9 times in the book of Romans. It is found most here than any other book in the NT.
What is the point? Don’t miss this – at the end of the day – show mercy to each other.
We are living in a very cruel world. They want to see Christ in us. Are you Christ do those around you?
Who does not have to be merciful? All of us.
It works when you have the Spirit of Christ in you.