Monday, May 05, 2008

Sermon 05/04/08 EMIM Sermon- Divine Design Part 2 "Created to Serve"

“Designed to Serve”
Ephesians 4:7-16

I read this story of an actual letter written to an insurance company to follow up on a claim that was filed.
Dear Sir:
I am writing in response to your request for more information concerning block #11 on the insurance form which asked for "cause of injuries" wherein I put "trying to do the job alone." You said you needed more information so I trust the following will be sufficient.

I am a bricklayer by trade and on the date of injuries I was working alone laying brick around the top of a four-story building when I realized that I had about 500 pounds of brick left over. Rather than carry the bricks down by hand, I decided to put them into a barrel and lower them by a pulley which was fastened to the top of the building. I secured the end of the rope at ground level and went up to the top of the building and loaded the bricks into the barrel and swung the barrel out with the bricks in it. I then went down and untied the rope, holding it securely to ensure the slow descent of the barrel.

As you will note on block #6 of the insurance form, I weigh 165 pounds. Due to my shock at being jerked off the ground so swiftly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope. Between the second and third floors I met the barrel coming down. This accounts for the bruises and lacerations on my upper body. Regaining my presence of mind, I held tightly to the rope and proceeded rapidly up the side of the building, not stopping until my right hand was jammed in the pulley. This accounts for the broken thumb.

Despite the pain, I retained my presence of mind and held tightly to the rope. At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of bricks hit the ground and the bottom fell out of the barrel. Devoid of the weight of the bricks, the barrel now weighed about 50 pounds. I again refer you to block #6 and my weight. As you would guess, I began a rapid descent. In the vicinity of the second floor I met the barrel coming up. This explains the injuries to my legs and lower body. Slowed only slightly, I continued my descent, landing on the pile of bricks. Fortunately, my back was only sprained, and the internal injuries were minimal.

I am sorry to report, however, that at this point, I finally lost my presence of mind and let go of the rope, and as you imagine, the empty barrel crashed down on me. I trust this answers your concern. Please know that I am finished "trying to do the job alone!"

Last week we began our EMIM campaign by working through the second chapter of Ephesians where we learned that God has created each of us in a unique way in order for us to do good works. In the beginning of chapter 4, Paul makes a major shift in this letter. In the first three chapters he lays down a wonderful theology about how God’s grace has made us one with Christ. Now, Paul transitions into how we ought to live out our newfound hope in Christ. Ephesians 4:7-16 says,

7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it [a] says:
"When he ascended on high,
he took many captives
and gave gifts to his people." [b]
9 (What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions [c]? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Paul begins by saying that each of us has been given grace as appointed by Christ. Paul quotes a passage from Psalm 68:18 and is referencing a time when God would reign from on his sanctuary. It actually says that God took many captive and received gifts from the people. Paul uses says the reverse in his quote of the verse. He says that God gave people gifts.

Whatever the case may be, Paul’s quote clarifies what he means by God giving grace as he appoints. He means that God gives us gifts as he appoints. Paul goes on to say that these gifts: that of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. This is not the only list of gifts Paul gives. The most famous actually comes from his letter to the Corinthians. His point is pretty similar though. Not all people have all the gifts, but each person is given certain gifts.

Paul then goes on to explain what Christ gives us these gifts. He says they are given to us so that we can do works of service in order to build up the body of Christ until we all reach unity in the faith and become mature. As we mentioned last week, each person was created for the purpose of “doing good works,” and now we are each given gifts to enable us to do these good works with the purpose of building up the church.

Paul then in the last section of this passage explains how the Body of Christ works. He says the church works like the human body. The human body grows as each part of the body does its work. When everything works together, each member of the body grows and the body as a whole grows.

I was never really good at biology and human anatomy, but I read a little about the way muscles grow. I am going to give you my version of how it works so if you are really intelligent in this area, bare with me. The job of the muscle is to help take the tension off of bones and tendons as we move about and work. They allow us to move and the give us our posture. When we workout or do things that stretch the capacity our muscles have to help the bones and tendons, the muscle begins to stretch, tare and break down. When this happens, satellite cells are released by our body and they come and attach themselves to the muscle fiber causing the fiber to grow and heal. The growth of the muscle fiber then helps to body adapt to the changing amount of work the body does.

What I found interesting about how the muscle works is that it involves several parts of the body to work together in order to accomplish what we desire to do with our body. Our muscles grow as we use them in the same way that we grow as a church and as an individual into who God ahs called us to be when we use our gifts to serve the community of faith and those around us.

At the end of the day, I am pretty sure that most of us know how important it is to serve and help people, but I often wonder why, knowing this truth we fail to do so. Jim Hyatt, who is a long time church member came by my office the other day and gave me an article entitled, “Be Like the Sunset.” It was written by a photographer named Dewitt Jones. In the article, Jones uses the analogy of a sunset to talk about whether we will choose to do something loving or choose not to out of fear. One day he was watching a beautiful sunset and it dawned on him that the sun was not waiting for him to show up before it happened, it would have set regardless of whether or not he was we there or not.

Jones goes on to say that the sun puts out its very best everyday, regardless of whether or not anyone notices and he wondered if he could do the same. He admits that more times than not, fear gets in the way of him being his best. He wonders if his best will not be good enough or if he anyone will even notice when he does his best. He concludes that we should all be like the sun and do our very best no matter what. He ends the article with this story.

A photographer lived across the street from a family with an eight-year-old girl named Annie and her cat named Tabby. One day he saw the cat alone and thought that Annie might like some pictures of the cat, but then wondered if he would just be wasting his time. After some thought, he decided, “why not.” He picked up his camera and went out and took the pictures. He sent the rolls off to be developed and when they came back, he put them in the mailbox. Later that afternoon Annie’s mom came and knocked on the door. She told the photographer that Tabby, the cat had been killed the day before and Annie was devastated because she did not have any pictures of the cat to remember it. However, when she went to the mailbox that morning she found two roles of film. Her mother said that he would never know what those pictures meant to her.

God created us to be like the sunset, to be our very best for those around us everyday, not matter who is watching or who appreciates it. You never know which or whose life you will touch when you are doing what you are created to do.

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