January 24, 2016 Text: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
Dear Friends in Christ,
Have you ever put a jigsaw puzzle together? At our house we have put 4 or 5 together and a couple of them are framed in my office. One of those puzzles is a picture from the “Andy Griffith Show.” It shows Andy and Opie going fishing along with frames of some of the other main characters like my all-time favorite Barney Fife. As with most jigsaw puzzles this was going to take time and patience.
We usually spread our puzzles out on our cardboard table and work on them when we have time or even as we pass by and see where a piece might go. Each piece would get us closer to a finished product. The closer to completing the puzzle the easier the pieces were to find. What was at first a conglomeration of confusion was now a harmonious symphony of order.
Then the symphony struck a sour note. There it was a missing piece. All this labor for naught. The family searched everywhere – on the floor, in the box, behind the sofa cushions, under the chair. The search was futile. The puzzle was incomplete, it was not whole.
Our lives can be like that jigsaw puzzle. Young people who are just beginning their lives have a difficult time fitting all the pieces together. Teenagers don’t know where they fit in as they find themselves between childhood and adulthood. The elderly at times feel as if they have been taken out and replaced and forgotten.
What we want to do this morning is focus in on a deeper level. The missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle means that the puzzle is not whole, it can never be until what is missing is found. Today then . . .
“THE MISSING PIECE”
Paul uses an interesting metaphor in our text, He states that “the body is one and has many members…if one member suffers, all suffer together.” (vs. 12a, 26a) I know that when my back hurts, the rest of my body suffers as well. If you get a sore throat or migraine the rest of your body “suffers” with your head. You don’t feel like doing anything until that part of the body that is suffering has time to heal.
Paul, however, sees a deeper meaning to his metaphor. He sees us, Christians, as the many members that make up the body, the church. We are members of the body with Christ as the head. Just as any body cannot function without the members working in perfect harmony, so too the body of Christ, the Christian Church. The church cannot function in perfect harmony unless all its members work together.
Does the church work in harmony? Do we make an effort to welcome a visitor or make another member feel comfortable in worship? Do you call on a member who has not worshipped with us? My experience has been that people who have not been here in a while want to be called, they want to be missed. Do you make an effort to seek out the pains of other members of this body? If we just look inward then the missing pieces are not missed. When the members of the body are not here, the picture is incomplete, there’s a hole in the church.
When our bodies become injured we take care of it. We visit a doctor to get a shot or a prescription to relive the pain and quicken the healing. We take care of the injury until it is healed.
Is it any wonder that we refer to our Lord Jesus Christ as the “Great Physician?” He alone is the One who has taken our sin of self-centeredness upon his shoulders to the cross of Calvary. He is, as the Gospel lesson states, “sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering sight to the blind.”
Unlike the parts of our body suffering, Christ suffered in order that the entire body might not suffer. Upon His shoulders were the infections of our souls. By his cuts and bruises we are whole. St. Paul writes in Romans 5:8 that “while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” By way of His forgiveness He wraps us and heals us to such an extant that there is no scar, no reminder of our sins. The healing balm of the empty tomb bursts forth in glory to each and every one of you as you come to his throne of grace and forgiveness. Each time we take the Lord’s body and blood the soothing ointment of grace heals the suffering of sin.
Paul in our text is calling us a family; the many-membered body of Christ. We have family members that need to be reached. We don’t have to travel thousands of miles to see them. They may be in your family, under your same roof, or those you have become friendly with. They need the good news of the Resurrected Christ. They need the same love that Christ has shown you. They need to know they are missed. They suffer if they don’t hear about the healing of God’s grace. Is there a missing piece or two that you notice as you look around the pews this morning?
Paul gives the direction in our text. “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.” In other words, no one is more important than another. We have an equality in the body of Christ. It is like the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All are equal in majesty, divinity and eternity.
So it is with us. We have the same baptism and an equality of purpose. The Council is not more important than the Elders, the Treasurer is not more important than the Trustees, the LWML is not more important than the Sunday School teacher. All work together for the unity of the body, for the good of the body, for the glory of the body, Christ Jesus our Lord.
We never did find the missing piece. Go into my office and there toward the upper left hand corner it stares you in the face, the puzzle is incomplete. May God grant us all the strength to work as a body, in unison with one another in love, to bring back our missing pieces.