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1-16-22 “God’s Presence Made Visible”

“God’s Presence Made Visible” (1 Corinthians 12:1-11)

David Peterson / General

Gifts of the Spirit; Body of Christ / 1 Co 12:1–11

Sermon type: Topical-Textual

Proposition: We are constantly tempted by false models of what it means to be the church, the Bible reminds us that the church is to be the place where God’s presence is made visible as people filled with the Spirit express His presence by serving one another with the gifts He gives them.

Introduction

Ship Misguided by Faulty Maps

In the Kingdom of Ice is journalist Hampton Sides’ compelling account of the failed nineteenth-century polar expedition of the USS Jeannette, captained by Lieutenant George De Long. It serves as a cautionary tale about the hazards of misorientation—not because of a faulty compass but because of a mistaken map. De Long’s entire expedition rested on a picture of the (unknown) North Pole laid out in the (ultimately deluded) maps of Dr. August Heinrich Petermann. Petermann’s maps suggested a “thermometric gateway” through the ice that opened onto a vast “polar sea” on the top of the world—a fair-weather passage beyond all the ice. De Long’s entire expedition was staked on these maps.

But it turned out he was heading to a world that didn’t exist. As perilous ice quickly surrounded the ship, Sides recounts, the team had to “shed its organizing ideas, in all their unfounded romance, and to replace them with a reckoning of the way the Arctic truly is.”

James K.A. Smith, You Are What You Love (Brazos Press, 2016), page 21; source: Hampton Sides, In the Kingdom of Ice (Doubleday, 2014), page 163. cited at preachingtoday.com

I. False Model #1 — The Church as Institution

1. Special temptation of older churches — Church as ethnic or national identity

Why the Catholic Church Is Losing Latin America–Brazil is poised to become minority Catholic as soon as this year. See article here.

2. Answer: Church is made up of those who confess Jesus as Lord (1 Cor. 12:3 “no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit”)

The mysterious internal combustion called motivation is sustained when you know you are important to a worthy cause. Source: Roger Thompson, Leadership, Vol. 15, no. 3.

II. False Model #2 — The Church as Service Provider

1. Special temptation of younger churches — Church modeled on contemporary business and marketing practices

“The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.” Source: W.M. Lewis, Christian Reader, Vol. 31

2. Answer: Each member is to provide the gift God gives them (1 Cor. 12:7to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good”)

III. Biblical Model — The Church as the Presence of God made Visible

1. God is made visible as he shows himself in each one using their gifts to serve each other (1 Cor. 12:7, 11)

Pit Crew Works as a Team

In 1950, Indy car pit crews consisted of four men—including the driver! No one was allowed to get near the car except this small crew of specialists. A routine pit stop to replace two tires and fill the tank back then took more than 60 seconds. Today, a crew consists of 11 members—excluding the driver. Six are permitted direct contact with the car. Five serve as behind-the-wall assistants. A full service pit stop that replaces all four tires, adjusts the wings, and tops off the tank now takes less than eight seconds! Formula 1 pit crews are even bigger—sometimes involving over 20 people who all have their role to play. When everyone understands his role, and when everyone on the pit crew does his job with purpose and passion, the team can complete the same job in under three seconds.

When the work of the church is carried out by a small handful of people, including the pastor, progress is slow and sometimes awkward. But when every member knows and fills his or her role, the difference can be amazing to behold.

YouTube, “Formula 1 Pit Stops 1950 & Today” (Posted 4-12-14) cited at preachingtoday.com

Keeping New Members

Ninety percent of the new members will stay in their congregation if (1) they can articulate their faith; (2) they belong to subgroups (such as a choir, home Bible study, or Sunday school class); (3) they have four to eight close friendships in their congregation.

Willard Black, Leadership, Vol. 4, no. 3. cited at preachingtoday.com

Few of us really know our strengths. The great teachers, and great leaders, recognize strengths and focus on them. Peter Drucker in Leadership, Vol. 10, no. 2. cited at preachingtoday.com

Conclusion

Who Packs Your Parachute?

Charles Plum, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, was a jet fighter pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent six years in a Communist prison. He survived that ordeal and now lectures about lessons learned from that experience.

One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said, “You’re Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!”

“How in the world did you know that?” asked Plumb.

“I packed your parachute,” the man replied. Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude. The man pumped his hand and said, “I guess it worked!”

Plumb assured him, “It sure did – if your chute hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Plumb couldn’t sleep that night, thinking about that man. Plumb says, “I kept wondering what he might have looked like in a Navy uniform – a Dixie cup hat, a bib in the back, and bell bottom trousers. I wondered how many times I might have passed him on the Kitty Hawk. I wondered how many times I might have seen him and not even said ‘Good morning, how are you,’ or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a sailor.”

Plumb thought of the many hours the sailor had spent on a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn’t know.

Now, Plumb asks his audience, “Who’s packing your parachute? Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day.”

Source: unknown. from https://storiesforpreaching.com.au/

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