Parenting is not easy. Especially when you see your kids hurting or anxious and there is nothing really you can do about it. I wished I would have had some vocational tech training classes or something before I had kids. If I knew then what I know now, I would have been a whole lot less trouble to my parents, I promise. It’s tough. Life is tough. While parenting is full of many great rewards, it still is a tough job.
During the week I was hit with the line: “You have no idea how I feel.” Spoken so true. We really don’t have an idea what another person feels. I can sympathize though. At fourteen years old, I went form a very small, very expensive private school that I attended for seven years, to a very large, predominately African American public school. I was transposed from a place where I was popular, well liked, and very comfortable to something so different. I literally felt like I had walked out of one world on to another planet. So I could in a small way remember that uneasiness, sick feeling you have in your stomach that first day. I also had the past experience of knowing that I could find true friends in both worlds. The key was just being myself, not letting race, social classes, backgrounds, family structure, religion or anything else stand in the way of forging new friendships. These new friendships that would last a lifetime shaped me into a better person. Before I could find my place in the new environment, I had to know exactly who I was and where I fit in.
That is exactly what Paul is writing to us this morning. The church in Rome was a new group of Christians. They were trying desperately to figure out just who Jesus Christ was. They were learning what it was like to live as Jesus’ disciples. To live a life of faith. They desperately wanted to be faithful but really just didn’t know how. Paul had the task of not only shaping their theology but also their attitudes towards one another. The church was made up of folks who did not necessarily all socialize together. They were made up of folks from every part of town. The only thing that brought them together was the common bond of Christ love. It is easy to explain to others who Christ is, but harder to explain just how the church works and functions.
Paul uses the analogy of the church being the body of Christ. It is one body, but has many different parts. Each part is vital to the overall health and well being of the whole. Each part has a vital function, which no other part can perform. With the church being the true object in the equation, let us examine it further. Suppose you have a terrible sore throat, it causes great pain when you swallow. Now the heart doesn’t say to the throat, “it is your problem, I am beating just fine.” The lungs don’t say, “a sore throat doesn’t affect me, I providing all the oxygen to everyone, so talk to the brain.” Now the throat because of great pain can not function properly. It directly affects the food that is consumed. The throat pain affects the brain and the emotional effects of the body. The way we interact with others when we are well and when we are sick are drastically different. Less food means less energy. Less fuel or energy to our cellular system that fights disease. This affects our entire immune system. If the throat goes on untreated, you can see how the entire body is affected. Each vital organ knows its own specific function and it place in the entire body function. If the throat refused to work, it directly affects the heart, lungs, all the way down to a singular cell.
This is clear when we think of our church as untied as one body. Christ’s’ body. God has given each of us some unique and powerful gift. God intended on us to use it in the overall function of the church. Paul reminds us that the gifts given to us by God are not of our own. They are a gift, which means no gift is greater or more important than the next gift. While we might feel we are not valued or posses Godly gifts, we do. Each gift is vital for the overall function of the entire body. You are vital for the overall function of Christ’s body. You are responsible for the health and welfare of Christ’s church. If we don’t use our gifts we loose them, or they become nonfunctional.
It is also an unselfish gift. The body was not designed for one organ to do it all. Paul reminds us that each person only posses one or two gifts. It is the collaboration of these diverse gifts that make it work. This time of discernment we are experiencing should help us all clarify exactly where we fit in. We are reminded that if we are one member of a larger body, so are the other churches in our area. We must rejoice in their effectiveness on the lives of others, simply because they are a part of the same body, Christ’s body.
So let us continue to discovering where we fit in God’s plan. In prayer, we will hear Christ words of instructions. In worship we will recognize that the gifts and blessing we hold are uniquely given to us by our Lord. In studying God’s word, we will find clarity in the function of our congregation. In service to others, we will experience the affects we have on the lives of others. And through it all, while it will be tough, we will know exactly where to fit in.
Tears, words of frustrations, confusion, a since of betrayal, feelings of wanting to return back to the way it use to be, anger, self- doubt, nervousness, anxiety, a sense of abandonment, that awkward feeling of not know what to say, trying to be supportive but only making things worse, a longing and deep desire to just return to the ways things once were. Through it all Christ love will bind us together forever. Amen.