Good morning Hope City! Man it is good to be here this morning. These past two weeks have been incredible to be able to hear from Pastor Tom Kang, and Pastor Jason Burns. These two men are friends of mine, and they did an awesome job starting off our series “Behind the Scenes”. If you missed out on either of those messages you will want to go back and catch those on our YouTube Channel, or through the Podcast.
For the past two weeks my kids have been in NJ visiting Tiffany’s family. In fact, Tiffany left this past Wednesday to go up there and spend 5 or 6 days with her family. It’s a funny feeling to be home alone without this crew—STRANGELY QUIET. Right before Tiffany left she said to me, I miss us all being together.
There is something about togetherness that we crave… isn’t there? We look forward to it… we rely on it… In fact, I’d go one step further and say that we need it. We need one another. And yet, there are times when we struggle to figure out what we are doing here, and where we fit in.
Last year, Disney remade one of my favorite child hood movies, The Jungle Book. Ten-year-old Neel Sethi stars as Mowgli, the “man-cub” lost in the jungles of India as a child, and raised by a wolf pack and the doting black panther Bagheera. But there is a fierce Tiger, named Shere Kahn, who would love nothing more than to destroy Mowgli. The story evolves as Mowgli tries to find his place in the pack, and also in the Jungle.
Watch along with me at what happens to little Mowgli.
Mowgli learns something from an early age, that the strength of the wolf is the strength of the pack, and the strength of the pack is the strength of the wolf. But he won’t understand what that means until much later in the story…
The Apostle Paul echoes these same thoughts to a pack of Christ followers in Corinth who were also miss understanding this point. This particular pack of people were living in an environment that was socially fragmented. They were divided by class, ethnicity, social standing, economic means, and they were defined by it. This group of people I am talking about is the church at Corinth, and Paul writes his letter to the Corinthian church encouraging them and reminding them of their need for one another.
Turn with me in your Bible’s to chapter 12 of the first book of Corinthians. That’s page 799 in the Bible’s around you. And we are going to start in verse 12…
12Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 1 Corinthians 12:12-14
We understand this functionally… Paul’s example of the body certainly helps. We understand that our body is made up of different parts and that each of these parts contribute to the good of the whole. Did you know that your one body is made up of 206 bones, and 642 skeletal muscles, and 79 different organs that make up your body. There is more happening right now inside of your body than my mind can even comprehend. And all of it is working together for one purpose, to help your body thrive!
Paul says the Church should be ONE body Made of Many parts. Do you know who makes up this church here today? All of you! In fact, if you’re here at Hope City today, maybe even for the first time, I want you to know that you can be a part of this church. It isn’t a church for a member’s only list. We aren’t an exclusive club. We are an ever growing group of people, or as Paul says, a growing Body of people who gather here in Sarasota. We are many different parts, but we make up one body.
Today I hope to show you three things that will happen when the Church operates as a body.
Some of you are trying to figure out right now… what part am I? Great question.
Actually Paul anticipates this question… Look at what he says next.
15Now 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. 16And 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. 1 Cor. 12:15-16
Just like Mowgli in the Jungle Book, Paul anticipates that there are people who were going to read this and say, but wait… I’m not like the rest of the pack. I’m not a hand… or I’m not an eye. I must not be important.
17If 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? 18But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19If they were all one part, where would the body be? 1 Cor. 12:17-19
Paul’s final question is so telling… if everyone wanted to be someone else, where would we be?
In fact, it brings us to our first point, and that is that Envy Erodes Effectiveness. Envy is the desire to have what someone else has… It causes a feeling of discontent with what you have based upon what others have. When we are envious we erode our effectiveness. It is hard to have a good relationship with them while you are envying the relationship that they have with someone else. It is hard to be a good neighbor when all you can think about is how much you wish you had what your neighbor has.
Envy pulls the focus on yourself and stops to whine for a while. You sit and say, look at everything everyone else has and you forget about everything that you have.
Pastor Craig Groeschel says it this way, “Envy is when you resent God’s goodness in other people’s lives and ignore God’s goodness in your own life.”
If you’re not careful, we could easily walk around and say well because I’m not like everyone else, I guess I’m not important or valued. Right? We’ve all said this, felt this, and maybe even been told this.
In middle school, I wanted to be like everyone else. I wanted to wear the same clothes as them, play the same sports as them, and fit in.
My envy of Mark made it impossible for me to like him. Chances are there is someone in your world right now who you are envious of. Your envy will erode your effectiveness.
“The strength of the wolf is the strength of the pack, and the strength of the pack is the strength of the wolf.”
Paul continues his discussion… Look back at verse 21 & 22
21The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable. 1 Corinthians 12:21-22
Again, we know this to be true. Try hanging out with me at about 12:15 in the afternoon if I haven’t eaten yet. I will immediately start looking for lunch. We could be in the middle of a conversation and there is a switch in my stomach that flips… I go from being HUNGRY to HANGRY in about 15 minutes!
Those parts of the body that we think are not that important have a way of popping up and proving their importance. Paul uses the word indispensable, or actually necessary. These parts, or these people are actually necessary. Remember, the people that Paul was writing had the mindset that some were more important than others. That those who were richer or smarter, or better looking were more important. And yet, he says, those who are overlooked are indispensable.
There is no room to say I don’t need you. Now apply this to the body, the church… there is no one that we don’t need. Or another way of putting it, is there is a place for everyone in the body of Christ.
Every personality, every skill set, every interest… There is a place.
Tease out Paul’s logic here… what happens? The eye can’t say to the hand, I don’t need you, because left to itself, it would see what needs to be done, and be incapable of doing anything about it. The head can’t say to the feet I don’t need you because it would know where to go, but be incapable of getting there. Paul is reminding us that Collaboration Multiplies Effectiveness. When you put 206 bones, and you add 642 skeletal muscles, and sprinkle in 79 different organs and you get them to collaborate with one another, your body can do incredible things. But it requires you to Collaborate. Or to CO – LABOR. TO WORK TOGETHER.
The strength of the wolf is the strength of the pack. And the strength of the pack is the strength of the wolf. When we Co-Labor with one another, or when we Collaborate, amazing things can happen in a church. We need one another. Here at Hope City our dream team collaborates because we believe that we are stronger together, and more effective together. In fact, listen in as a few of our dream team members share about what it is like to be a part of the dream team.
Collaboration Multiplies Effectiveness
How great is that? Do you know what I love about it? Each one of these people recognize that is not about them, but about other people. They are serving in different ways but are each contributing to the goal of helping people find hope and experience home.
In fact, I got an email this past weekend from a recent visitor and they wrote me and said this…
I truly feel “home”… coming to Hope City my first time brought tears to my eyes…I have prayed for months to be guided to the right church. When I saw the anchor AND “Welcome Home” on the shirts, I wept with thankfulness.
Hope City Church exists to help people take their next steps in their journey of faith. That may be a first step towards faith, or a step of obedience. This is an impossible task on your own, but together God can do more than we can even imagine! Collaboration Multiplies Effectiveness.
Check back on what Paul is writing here… Look in verse 24.
But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 27Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 12:24-27
Paul brings out our third point here today, and that is that WE > ME. What we do together is far better than what we do on our own. We are in this together. The church is described as a body that needs each person. The Church is about what WE do for others rather than what others will do for ME. Too many people make the church a place where they are served rather than a place where they serve.
I’m so proud of our church because just yesterday we gathered together to serve our school. 30 people spent 3.5 hours here at Tatum Ridge planting 114 new plants, spreading 308 bags of mulch, and cleaning out ** palm trees. I’ve said it before, but there are over 450 families that call Tatum Ridge home. And every day they drive by the trailer parked outside and they are asking themselves the question, what kind of church is Hope City? Well we are a church that wants to answer it with WE>ME. It’s not about what they can do for us, but what we can do for our city, for our neighbors, for our friends…
“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” 1 Cor. 12:27
So let me ask you? What are you waiting for? What is preventing you from jumping in and serving on the dream team here at Hope City?
Maybe you’ve felt like you have nothing to offer, or that there is someone else who could do it better than you. Let me remind you that the strength of the wolf is the strength of the pack. And the strength of the pack is the strength of the wolf. We are better together!
There is a place for you. There is a team for you. In fact today we’ve made it incredibly easy for you to take your next step. We have four teams here at Hope City. Music/Tech, Hospitality, Kids, Roadies.
Music/Tech = Do you like computers? Like being behind the scenes? Or maybe you play an instrument or sing we’d love for you to join our Music/Tech team. Matt would love to talk to you after the service today.
Hospitality= Maybe you like seeing people getting connected. You like high fives and hand shakes. Quite honestly, maybe you are really good at helping people feel comfortable and connected. Our hospitality team has a spot for you. People make their decision on whether they are coming back to church within the first 7 minutes of being at church. The hospitality team serves on the front lines of creating an environment where people are able to experience home!
Kids= Maybe for you kids are your thing. You love the enthusiasm and energy that they have. At Hope City Kids we work hard to create an environment where Kids can explore their faith and find that Jesus can be their forever friend. We know that kids of all ages are looking for adults to show up and care. To hear them and listen to them.
Roadies= Our roadies team is the unsung hero of our church. They are the first in and the last out. They pick stuff up and put it down. They arrive at 6:30 on Sunday mornings and set up everything that you see. They serve behind the scenes plugging cables in, pushing cases, and ensuring that our church has a place to call home. It’s hard to be a portable church without our Roadies Team. I’d ask you to consider joining this team. Would you be willing to serve once a month as a Roadie? Either for Setup or tear down? You don’t have to have any experience, we will teach you everything you need to know.
What part will you play? Earlier we heard the code of the wolf… It is that the strength of the wolf is the strength of the pack, and the strength of the pack is the strength of the wolf.
Paul was saying the same thing when he said that we are a part of the body. The church is the body made up of all the components CO-LABORing together. There is a place here for you… A place for you to contribute to something bigger than yourself. A place to live out what God has created you for, gifted you for and called you to.
God has brought us together to make a difference #ForSarasota… But we can’t do it on our own. We are better together. And the best is yet to come.