"Living Our Vision: Engage in the Life of the Church"

Scripture:  1 Corinthians 12:12-26

INTRODUCTION

I don’t know if you have noticed or not, but it seems that the Seahawks are sort of a big deal across our state right now.  It seems like everywhere you go, there is a reminder that the Seahawks are going to be playing in the Super Bowl this afternoon.

It’s really quite amazing how all of they hype around the “12th Man” has unified so many people around the state.  At first, it seemed that the hype was fairly contained within the city of Seattle and its suburbs.

And that may have been true at the beginning of the month - but when I got back from my trip to Washington, DC on Wednesday night, it was a completely different story.  As I drove through Seattle, I saw a building with a lot of lights on – and when I looked closely, I noticed that the lights formed the number “12.”  I kept seeing more and more buildings with banners and lights, and those sights didn’t stop at Everett like they had earlier in the month.  When I got to Mt Vernon, I noticed that signs and reader boards here were also centered on the Seahawks.  As I drove past The Farmhouse Restaurant, I noticed that even they had a big number “12” on the side of their building.

Over the past few days, there has been little opportunity to forget that the Seahawks will be in the Super Bowl.  As Crystal and I drove down the freeway in Mt Vernon yesterday afternoon, there was a group of people standing on an overpass holding up a “12th Man” flag.  At one point in the day, we talked for five or ten minutes with a stranger about the Seahawks and their chances in today’s game.  And when we stopped by Fred Meyer, there were more people in the store wearing Seahawks gear than not wearing it.  It seems like the Seahawks are just popping up everywhere I look!  [RELEASE BALLOON]

And it’s great, isn’t it?  It’s wonderful to see the community rallying together around something so positive.  It’s fascinating to me to see the way that the Seahawks have brought everybody together and broken down so many barriers.  It doesn’t matter your age, political beliefs, race, or gender.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a Washington native or a recent transplant.    Everybody is able to come together on a level playing field, joining together in celebration and anticipation.  Everybody is invited to be a part of it. 

BODY OF CHRIST

It has been in the midst of all of this growing hype around the Seahawks and their Super Bowl run that I’ve been reflecting on what it means to “engage in the life of the Church.”  And I keep coming back to the same thought – wouldn’t it be great if we could engage in the Church with that same intensity as we engage being the “12th Man”?  What would it look like if people approached Christian discipleship with that same passion, enthusiasm, and energy? 

Paul reminds us in 1st Corinthians that when it comes to the Church – which Paul refers to using the metaphor of the Body of Christ – it’s not about any one person and their extraordinary gifts, but it’s about the entirety of the community working together.  Each person brings what God has given them - their own gifts, strengths, and passions – and together we are called to be the presence of Jesus Christ in the world.  It’s about being united in a vision and mission, and each of us being fully committed and invested in being the church.  All of us have a responsibility in carrying out the ministry that God has called us to.  It’s not about one or two people doing all the work while everybody else watches – it’s about everybody doing what God has intended for them.

I think that being a part of the Body of Christ is similar in a lot of ways to being a part of a team.  A team can only function if all of its members work together toward a common goal.  For example, a football team couldn’t win if it was made up entirely of quarterbacks.  You need each member of the team and the individual gifts and abilities that they bring to the table in order to have a successful team.

That’s something that I really learned back in High School.  I played for two years on my school’s football team…  And I was terrible.  I think that I had some potential, but I never had a chance to live up to that potential…  Because I honestly had no idea how to play football.

I remember my first day of practice, and the coach was figuring out what positions each person on the team would be playing.  He got to me and asked, “What position do you play, Natland?  Quarterback?”  I had no idea what my options were, so I just started at him blankly, having no idea that he’d made a joke.

Well, I spent two seasons on the football team as a defensive tackle until I finally gave up.  I tried hard, but I could tell that there was just something missing that was keeping me from really being a good football player.  It wasn’t until a couple of years later when I was watching a football game on TV that I realized what was missing.  In the middle of the game, I saw a defensive tackle sack the quarterback…  And it was only in that moment that I finally realized that the whole point was to tackle the person with the ball.  This would have been good information to have when I first started playing, but nobody ever thought to explain it to me in such simple terms.  I didn’t realize that my role was potentially so important to the overall success of the whole team.  I didn’t realize how important my role was or how much impact I could have on the game if I was fully engaged and fully committed to everything that happened on the field.

DISCIPLESHIP

Fortunately, I don’t feel like I lost out on too much by my football career coming to a premature end.  But I worry that our discipleship suffers in similar ways.  Too often, we take our own gifts and the gifts of others for granted.  We fall into the trap of thinking that some gifts are more important than others, some body parts more essential, and some positions on the field move valuable.

There is a story about a woman who was having a conversation with her friend about how little she felt like she had done in her life.  She said, “When I look at what other people have accomplished, I can’t help but think about all of those other things that I should be doing with my life: working to stop the death penalty, saving starving children, reading the best books, and having the most well-informed opinions.”  Her friend responded, “You know, all of those things are good and important…  But we’re all a part of the Body of Christ, and we all have a role – however small we feel our role might be.  So what if you’re the nose hair?  You’re there for a purpose.  You may not have any idea what good you’re doing, but that’s still your job: to be a nose hair in the body of Christ.”[1]

ENGAGE

Engaging fully in the life of the Church is only possible when we embody and live out each of the characteristics of disciples of Jesus Christ that we have talked about throughout the past month – “Learn and Grow,” “Teach and Lead,” and “Serve Others.”

As disciples of Christ, one of our primary tasks is to learn and grow in our knowledge of our gifts and relationship with God.  It is important that each of us knows that God has gifted us and empowered us to serve in our own unique ways.  We have all been called to be a part of the Body of Christ.

We have also been called to value and encourage others in the Body of Christ.  We serve as models and mentors to others as they seek their place in the Body.  We are called to affirm their gifts and make sure that each member of the community knows that they are important to carrying out the ministry that God has called us to.

We are called as the Body of Christ to serve others, both within the church and beyond the church.  There are many ways to do this.  In the church:  Sunday morning coffee, scripture reading, cleaning, teaching, serving on committees, etc.  Beyond the church:  Present in the community, mentoring kids at the school, serving meals, building homes, advocating for change, etc.

In the reading that we heard from the Gospel of John, Jesus prays for unity among his disciples.  He is clear that the reason for that unity is so that the world will hear the Good News, and that those who have been called to share will over the love of God to the world.

CONCLUSION

So, go forth and enjoy the game!  Scream and shout and jump for joy.  But pay attention to how you’re feeling and engaging as you watch the game.  And I challenge each of you to find ways to bring that same energy and passion that you feel about the Seahawks with you to church.



[1] Brian Volck “A Nose Hair in the Body of Christ” at Ekklesia Project.  Accessed at http://www.ekklesiaproject.org/blog/2013/01/a-nose-hair-in-the-body-of-christ/    

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