January 27, 2013: e pluribus unum

Let us pray: Dear Savior, You have told us that: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Likewise, when individual people are at odds with each other, or when we are at odds with ourselves, we cannot stand. We cannot be strong. We cannot have internal peace which leads to external productivity and satisfaction with life. Today put such internal and external divisions to rest with Your forgiving love and the peace that it brings. Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR LOVING LORD!

TEXT: I Cor. 12: 12-21, 26,27

Dearly Beloved By Jesus:

“e pluribus unum.” Out of many, one. For most of our history as a nation, that Latin phrase has described America. Ben Franklin said basically the same thing when our founding fathers assembled at the first continental congress. He told the delegates: “We must all join together, or most assuredly we will all hang separately.” In a practical sense, the same truism applies to the holy Christian church and to us, as individual believers. United, we stand. Divided, we fall.

The Holy Spirit fleshed out this truth to St. Paul who, in turn, wrote it down in our text. The well-to-do, cosmopolitan Corinthian church was divided backwards, forwards, and inside out. They had cliques within their midst—the former Jews who still wanted to adhere to OT ceremonial laws and make them a prerequisite for any kind of salvation thus denigrating the Gospel, the former heathens who were very weak and worldly in their faith, people who didn’t want to be judgmental of an incest case in their midst, and a whole host of other divisions. Basically, the Corinthian church was a cross-section of modern America. And underscoring these external clashes was the same view most people adhere to today. That is, “God’s favor will only rest upon me if I’m good enough to re-earn it each day.” Then, as today, God was impersonal, distant, judgmental, and even vindictive to most people.—Or so they imagined.

I

None of this makes for happy, well-adjusted people. None of it makes for strong, confident Christians. And so, to counteract this religious slop, Paul outlines exactly what God created when He made the Christian Church and called them individually into His fold. “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”—Right here we see the Christian version of: “e pluribus unum.”

Then Paul goes on to drill this down to a very personal level—talking about feet, hands, ears, eyes, the sense of smell and the like. His point is: each member of the body enhances the others. Each has a special role which uplifts and makes the others more effective. All this begs the question: “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”

This past week my ministry was blest. During one cold morning I phoned various members who are dealing with health issues, which of course lead to spiritual issues. One family has a little one suffering from a rare malady which prevents his normal growth. Extra tissue pressing on his brain may be the cause which will mean brain surgery at a later date. Another older member has been undergoing chemo treatments for their cancer. It’s been a long haul and recently the doctor informed them that the cancer will never be “cured” only contained a bit with more chemo. These issues, along with job career changes among the membership, problems with wayward children, stresses upon marriages, and financial worries weigh upon the body of Christ. And it’s my job to buck people up and apply God’s strength to their weakness whenever I can.

Well, the amazing thing about my morning phone calls was how compassionate hurting people are towards their fellow believers! Both the women I talked to asked about the other. Both are praying for the other. Both are concerned about each of you, too, and not just wallowing in self pity! They realize, as should all of you, that it doesn’t matter if you have a broken wrist, a bad leg, weak eyes, faulty hearing, heart problems, or brain problems—God has put you all together right now to enhance each others lives. So, yes, we cry with each other, laugh with each other, and rejoice with each other! We need each other. That’s why God lumped us all together through the Spirit’s power in baptism. “e pluribus unum.”

II

Of course, the ultimate head of the body of Christ is Jesus Christ. And His purpose is to “seek and save the lost.” It is to: “feed the lambs and the sheep.” It is to: “give strength unto His people and bless them with peace.” He already laid all the groundwork we’ll ever need in this area by giving His life for ours upon the cross. He already has assured a blessed, victorious future for each of us by rising from our graves and giving us a new life of hope, help, comfort, and confidence. We know that our Redeemer lives! We know that He doesn’t play games or favorites based on our human achievements or lack thereof. We know that: “nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” And that is why on this cold January morning we can hold our heads up with honor and dignity. So as you look around the church today continue to keep in mind St. Paul’s final words of wisdom: “Now, you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”—What a stupendous blessing! Amen

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