His Hands & Feet: Show & Tell

By September 4, 2014 Stand Alone No Comments

His Hands & His Feet: Show & Tell

Last week we talked about how the kingdom of God grew and expanded as John the Baptizer said behold, the Lamb of God. And two people began following Jesus as he told them to come and see. Then Andrew told Simon Peter to come and see. Then Jesus found Phillip and told him tocome and see. Then Phillip found Nathaniel and told him to come and see.

It wasn’t through debate, coercion, or theological expertise, but a simple invitation to experience a person.

Today there are 2.18 billion followers of Jesus Christ, which all started with just a few people saying come and see.

One of the things we did not discuss last week is that this movement grew astronomically against all odds.  While many came to faith as the result of the invitation to come and see, not everybody just came and saw and believed. Many did not believe; in fact the majority did not believe. There was much opposition to the movement especially from the religious leaders. This opposition continued after Jesus died, rose, and ascended to the right hand of the Father. One religious leader in particular was a very strong opponent of the church. This individual’s name was Saul of Tarsus; you may know him as Paul. We find his story in the book of Acts. It really takes off in chapter 9.

Acts 9:1-5 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied.

This is weird. Jesus wasn’t even around for Saul to persecute. By this time, Jesus had already died, rose, and ascended. Saul never literally persecuted Jesus. Who was Saul persecuting? Believers.

Saul persecuted Christians. But Jesus said that Saul was persecuting Jesus.

Why does the risen Jesus tell Saul that Saul was persecuting Jesus? Because Christians are the body of Christ. Because Christians are in Christ and Christ is in us. Jesus is saying, “Saul, by your persecution of Christians you have been persecuting, me, Christ.”

One principle we find here is this: one’s treatment of Christians correlates to his treatment of Jesus. To persecute Christians is to persecute Christ. To badmouth Christians is to badmouth Christ. To speak well of Christians is to speak well of Christ. I have heard people say, “I love Jesus, but I can’t stand the church.” Because of the way that believers have misrepresented Christ and done atrocious things in the name of Jesus, I can understand why people would say that, but based on the principle we see here, it is conflicting statement. Why? Because we are in Christ and Christ is in us. Christians are connected to Jesus.

One point of application is that we should speak well of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We should avoid gossip, and slander. As my mom used to say when I was a child, “If we don’t have something kind to say, perhaps we shouldn’t say anything at all.” We should capitalize on opportunities to speak well of one another, edify one another and say that which builds one another up that it may benefit those who listen.

We are the Body of Christ, connected to him and connected to one another. Saul explains this well. Remember Saul; he was the guy we saw in Acts 9 persecuting Christians and thus persecuting the Christ to whom they belonged. He became a Christian as a result of his Damascus Road experience – and not just any Christian. He became God’s chosen messenger to carry the gospel message to those beyond the borders of Israel. Again, we know him as Paul. In his letter to the church in Rome he writes in Rom 12:4-8

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

Believers belong to Christ and to one another. Believers are all members of the Body of Christ.

Paul uses the illustration of the human body to show our connectedness, not our independence but our interdependence. Just as your arm belongs to your body and thus is connected to your foot, we belong to one another. Just as what happens to your foot affects your arm, since they are interdependent, what happens to one of us affects the rest of us. If we break or fracture our foot (as some of us in here know all too well), your arm may want to go and play football, but the boot or cast on your foot won’t let you! We are not independent of one another, but we depend on one another. We, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

Paul continues: We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with the faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Paul says let each one use his gifts for the faith! Whatever it is. Wherever God has placed you in the Body of Christ, you have a role to play and you have a gift to use for the benefit of the whole body.

I believe that you are here (at NCF) for a reason and whatever God-given gifts, talents, or abilities you have should be used not only in your jobs or your hobbies, but in the church for the glory of God. You may be good at teaching children. Do that. You may have musical talent. Do that. You may have administrative skill. Do that. You may have clerical skills. Do that. Whatever skills you have, use them to serve God and others.

 

Each one should use his or her gift for the advancement of the Kingdom.

 

Everybody in the Body of Christ should be serving in some capacity. And everything that everyone does is important. Whether it’s baking cookies, praying with and for people, leading a bible study, welcoming people – you may have an awesome smile. Everybody can and should be serving in some capacity, for it is our purpose.

Every one of us has a role to play, a part to play and every one of them is important. In your programs, you all have connection cards and we have some different opportunities for you to serve. You can indicate on your connection card if you have an interest in serving in various capacities…

Paul’s discussion of the body of Christ and his comparison with the human body is found elsewhere. That wasn’t just applicable to the church at Rome, but it is a principle that applies to every local church as the expression of the Body of Christ. If you turn to 1 Cor 12, you can see that Paul has more to say about this to the church at Corinth in light of their situation and role as the Body of Christ. Let’s read together beginning in verse 12.

1 Cor 12:12-2712 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.

13 For we were all baptized byone Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Your body is made up of many parts – hands, arms, legs, feet, internal organs, and though there are many individual body parts, they form one body – you. It is one unit with diverse parts that all work together. In the human body, there is both unity and diversity. It is the same with the church. Diversity with unity. We are different and should celebrate and embrace those diversities.

In Body of Christ there is both unity and diversity.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

While we are diverse, we should also be unified. For we all belong to one another, work together and are interdependent upon one another. We need one another.

Every single one of us has a part to play in the body of Christ. Just as every part of the human body has a part to play. The ear doesn’t see. The eye doesn’t hear. In the same way there are things that each and every one of us can do in the body of Christ here at NCF as a local expression of the body of Christ and again, each part is important.

21 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!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,

If I were to saw your body in half, that would be painful. What about just cutting off an arm? That shouldn’t be so bad; that’s much less being cut off. No. Still painful. What about just cutting off your hand? Not nearly as much. Still painful. Just your finger. Even just the tip of your pinky finger? Still painful. Each body part is important, and in a sense, indispensable!

And to think that certain body parts are unimportant or that they don’t play a role is silly.

Paul says in v22On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,

Think that about one of your body parts that you consider weaker. Is it this little web of skin between your fingers or perhaps your pinky toe? Those aren’t really that important, right? They’re weak. What happens when you get a paper cut in that little web? You are reminded of just how important it is and just how often it is used. Have you ever stubbed your pinky toe? After that, the pain of every step reminds you just how very important, and useful that weak little pinky toe is. In the body of Christ, you may think that if you’re not a pastor, or teacher, or worship leader, you’re not important. Wrong answer. You are very important. Indispensable!

You know that visitors decide whether they will return to a church within the first seven minutes of their arrival? That means that even if I was an amazing communicator and my messages were outstanding, when people show up, when they come and see, their decision is made based on their experience, not in the message, but in the parking lot, with the greeters, with you. You’re indispensable. You’re important. Your display of the love of Jesus, your smile your welcoming spirit has more to do with the growth and success of this church than my preaching does.

As with the human body, in the Body of Christ, every member is important and has a part to play.

23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

 We are the body of Christ, we are in a very real sense, his hands and his feet.

One of the reasons the church exists is to display Christ to the world. As Jesus is, so we are the light of the world.

 In John 8:12, Jesus says I am the light of the world.

In Matt 5:14, Jesus says to his disciples, you are the light of the world.

This makes sense because as the church, we are the manifestation of the Body of Christ. As he is in us and we are in him, as he is the light, so we are the light.

As the various parts of the Body of Christ, we all have our part to play as we display Christ to the world. As we say come and see and invite the world to see Jesus, we all play a part in that. We all work together to paint a picture of Jesus for the world to see.

Our call is not only to go and tell, but to show and tell (because actions speak louder than words).

Show and tell is better than just go and tell. Remember in kindergarten, show and tell? Your friends could have just stood up and told you about their new transformer and how it morphs from a boombox into a robot. But it was far more impressive when they could show you, when they transformed it right before your eyes. Show and tell is better than just go and tell.

A living example is better than an explanation. Actions speak louder than words. Once again just as early as followers did not give a doctrinal dissertation or engage in an argument about facts or propositions, instead they showed people Jesus so also today as the body of Christ we will be more effective in what we do as we show people Jesus. Because actions speak louder than words.

I can tell you this from experience. While I was on the path of coming to know Jesus, it wasn’t intellectual arguments that got me there. It was interacting with people in whom I saw Jesus, some of whom are in the room today. I saw Jesus in them. I saw the peace that transcends understanding. I saw unshakeable faith. I saw true joy.

I’ve heard the phrase “preach the gospel use words when necessary.” I like the spirit behind that because it places an emphasis on the action. But I wouldn’t frame it in the same way I would not say preach the gospel use words when necessary. I would say preach the gospel with your lips and with your lives. Because we are to go and tell. But go and tell alone doesn’t do it. Go and tell should be accompanied by show and tell.

Actions alone cannot communicate the gospel. In fact, we can take a look at many who live lives that are nobler and even more “righteous” than those who are followers of Jesus. If words were taken out of the equation and we were to simply look at actions, we would probably be convinced that we should be followers of Joseph Smith because the lives of Mormons usually outshine non-Mormons.

But the truth of the gospel is not conveyed by good works alone. All the good deeds in the world will not remove one’s guilt for sin; only the blood of Jesus can do that. Nonetheless as we noted last week the church has in many ways done harm to the name of Jesus through wrong actions. It is our turn. It is our generation’s turn to not only preach the gospel with words but to preach the gospel with actions and to live lives that reflect the Gospel.

In the words of Paul, we are “to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Eph 4:21). and to “conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ.” (Phil 1:27).

And that does not mean living a perfect life because nobody can do that. And that does not mean that we convey to others that now that we are followers of Jesus we never do wrong. Because that would not be true. Yes, there has been life transformation, but we don’t live perfect lives.   What it does mean is living a life of integrity, a life that is consistently in line with godliness and holiness, but also having a humility about us that communicates that we still and are sinners in need of a Savior; that Savior is Jesus.

We are declared righteous not because of what we did or do but because of our faith in what Jesus did on our behalf.

So yes, go and tell, but also, show and tell. We should preach the gospel with words, but also with actions. What actions?

Unity and love.

When believers lack unity the world sees division, which fuels their unbelief and skepticism. Why should they believe if we are divided? Jesus prays in John 17:20-23 20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

Our unity as the Body of Christ brings belief – it fosters faith.   Let’s not be divided, and let’s not only go and tell, but show and tell, as a united front show the world that God has sent Jesus that they may believe.

In both 1 Cor 12 and Rom 12we discussed these illustrations of the Body and within both passages there is a call to unity. And not surprisingly, both passages are followed by the call to LOVE. 1 Cor 13 is THE love chapter. The latter part of Romans 12 reinforces the brotherly love and unity bathed in humility.

Jesus said in John 13:34-35 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

This is how the world will know that you are my disciples. Not your bumper stickers. Not your tshirts. Not your ability to expound upon truth and argue from the Scriptures. But your display of love for one another. Certainly not your denominations, divisions and schisms. In fact, hasn’t that blemished the name of Jesus to the world?

According to Jesus, our love for one another is the great evidence that we belong to him.

 Truth is important, yes, but so is love and the emphasis on truth often turns into a battle over being right which overshadows love and once again, causes division and blemishes the name of Christ.

And as the Body of Christ, whose role is to display Christ to the world, one of the most effective ways that we can do that is through our love for one another, to love like Jesus loved.

Not only go and tell but show and tell. Show unity, show love.

So go and tell others what Jesus did. But don’t stop there. Show and tell what Jesus is still doing for we are the embodiment of Jesus on earth, we are the body of Christ, we are his hands and his feet.