Text: 1 Corinthians 12:12-25 August 26, 2012.
1) New share of space at work: The number of people who run business out of their homes is in millions. But some have found that working alone at home can be a little lonely. To give these lonely business owners a sense of community ¡°co-working spaces¡± have been designed. Space of different sizes is rented out where people working independently can share space with others. They have their own working area but can exchange ideas and making friends with fellow independent business owners to have a feel of ¡°working together.¡±
2) Old share of space in church: Sometimes some Christians think that they can work better alone. But God created His church to have many people work together to build His body in earth. Every Christian has been placed into ¡°the body of Christ.¡± (12:27) The Lord desires that we take part in fellowship with a community of believers. Building the sense of community in a local church was weak at the time of Paul. So, he wrote in length to address the need of ¡°partnership¡± in the church by all kinds of people in this chapter. In order to increase the strength of community for the advancement of God¡¯s work, Christians need to learn how to share space with one another.
THE BENEFITS OF SHARING SPACE:
1) It was in God¡¯s design: ¡°The Lord God said: It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helper suitable for him.¡± (Genesis 2:18) I am sure God had created space big enough for both Adam and Eve or He won¡¯t do things to jeopardize His plan. When God has a place for us to serve him and do his work, he will provide helpers to accomplish his purpose when we are willing to share space with them.
2) It is a biblical pattern: ¡°Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two.¡± (Mark 6:7) This was the way Jesus sent out his disciples to preach the gospel message. He didn¡¯t send them one by one but two by two. Throughout the Bible, God always used teamwork to achieve his goals. When God called Moses, he also sent Aaron. When God sent Paul, he also sent Barnabas, Luke and later Timothy. God didn¡¯t just care if we can do things in his work; he also cares if we can work together for his glory. This is still true today.
3) It is for better results: ¡°Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work.¡± (Eccl 4:9) Solomon was talking about how two persons sharing and working together may produce better results. As Tim Kelly, pastor of the fastest growing church in Manhattan, NY, said, ¡°A church of 2,000 in membership can do lot more than 10 churches of 200 people each can do combined.¡± When we are willing to share space and opportunity with others, our productivity also increases because there are things not one person can do by himself.
4) It is for better support: ¡°If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him.¡± (Eccl 4:10) No one is all capable and no one is guaranteed of no falling. In time of trouble, falling and failures, if we can share space with someone else at the moment, we certainly need his help to get up and keep going. Why would anyone want to do all things by himself if he has a fair mind of his inadequacy?
DIFFICULTIES IN SHARING SPACE: (Not in order of degrees)
1) It takes humility and respect: If we want to share space to work with someone else in anything, this is the basic attitude we need to have: humility on ourselves and respect on others. We need to recognize our own inadequacy and respect the talents or ideas of others in the same space. People who are too proud to admit his weakness or don¡¯t respect others and their strength can¡¯t work effectively in shared space. Probably this is why the first quality most executives look for in hiring staff is their attitude and ability in teamwork. This quality is also important in human relationships, marriage, friendship and church work.
2) Be ready to face conflicts: Be it in shared space of spouses in a marriage or colleagues at work, conflicts of ideas, interests or ways of doing things is an integral part of the deal. No two persons were born identical on the inside even in identical twin on the outside. God creates each one of us differently with in many ways from our looks to our tastes of food, styles and colors of clothing, life routines, habits and ways of doing things the list can go on for miles. Personality conflict is a frequently quoted reason for divorce cases. When conflicts arise, we need to be ready and wise to handle them so no one in the shared space may get hurt.
3) Be gracious when parting: We all look after our own interest more than that of others. We all have more self respect than that of others. When we live and work in shared space, we need to learn how to handle conflicts so both sides can continue to live and work with each other with dignity and joy. When it is a better choice to part, do it in a gracious way. When Paul and Barnabas had strong opinions on bringing Mark to another mission trip, they parted with grace and respect to each other. We can see that Paul continued to respect Mark years later that he wanted to see him and called him ¡°helpful to my ministry.¡± (2 Timothy 4:11) Parting in fights or holding ill feelings against each other is never a Christian way. Except in marriages, God did not ask us to share space with someone else forever. If it is time to make changes, do it with love and respect.
4) Use every opportunity to grow: ¡°As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.¡± (Proverbs 27:17) Sharing space with someone else in life or work is a precious opportunity to learn and grow; be it in a marriage or at work or in service to the lord at his church. We learn little or nothing by live or work alone. It is by living and working with others, we see lot more of ourselves and others from whom we learn and grow. Keeping the self alone all through life is never the best way to grow. If we have proper attitude in handling people and situation, we can learn to grow in all shared space experience. Don¡¯t miss it!
BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES ON SHARING SPACE: (1 Corinth. 12:12-25) Let¡¯s look at how to share space in God¡¯s church.
1) We need to respect God¡¯s design: ¡°The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts, they form one body. So it is with Christ. Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.¡± (12:12, 14) Unlike making friends or moving to a neighbor-hood or getting a job, we have some degrees of freedom of choice. But being part of a church, the body of Christ, we don¡¯t have much choice on who may share the space with us in that church. No one can build a church for himself and not share with others. Unless you reject the design of God for the church, you need to share space with others no matter you like it or not.
2) We need to respect differences: ¡°If 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?¡± (12:17) Paul also uses legs and hands in a body in v. 14 to illustrate the need of all different part to form a functioning body. Most of us have the tendency to group or befriend with people of like culture, language, values and other personal tracts to feel more at home. But in God church, we can¡¯ avoid to share space with people who are very different from us in many ways.
3) We need to support one another: ¡°The parts that we think are less honorable, we treat with special honor. The parts that are less presentable are treated with special modesty.¡± (12:23)This is not about differences, it is about ¡°value and honor¡± we place on the less honorable or presentable. In any given church, there are people who may bring to church different level of value and contributions. Some may be more mature, gifted, willing to participate and serve, care for others, etc. Just as not all fingers in our hand function the same way, but all are important to the wholesome of the body, the people of less value or function are also important to a church. We cannot and should not judge any one by the value or contribution he brings to the church. Everyone is a full and honorable part in the body of Christ. To treat anyone with contempt is unchristian.
4) We need to maintain unity: ¡°So that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.¡± (12:25) Strives or division is the most harmful factor that destroys countless churches. When God puts us to share space with others in His church with all the differences in so many ways, we are to work very hard to keep the Body of Christ in unity at all costs. If one is truly in Christ, he needs to share space with all others in that Body regardless of all the possible pitfalls of division and differences. Never forget the last prayer of Christ before his death in John 17:20-22 was for unity among his disciples. Paul reminded the early Christians in Ephesians 4:2-3, ¡°Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.¡±
1) When you have a choice: In everyday life and in many cases, we do have a choice if we want to share space with others. Don¡¯t forget the benefits of sharing space with others that makes life more fulfilling and vibrant than just all by yourself. God did not create enough islands for each person but one planet earth for all of us. So, launch out with good will and faith with wisdom to get connected with others. You will love to share with some people more than space but other parts of your life as well.
2) When you don¡¯t have a choice: When God leads you to a church, any church, you have no choice but to share space and other elements of a church with other. Try to follow principles of working together with others in the church from Corinthians 12. The basic foundation of a happy and fruitful life in a church is not on our choices but on the choice God has made for us. So, make the best of the situation, practice personal discipline to respect God and others. Work together the best you know how and allow God to work out other issues.