“YOU ARE ON THE TEAM” By Pastor Yau
Text: Romans 12:3-8 August 19, 2007.
1) Familiar story: Someone wrote of his experience about baseball: “When I lived in Chicago, I loved to go to Wrigley Field for a baseball game. Sitting in the stands, downing a great hot dog and cheering the Cubs on to a victory. When they scored a homerun, I would shout my approval and waving my fists to show support. But when they missed a strike or made a mistake, I would mourn and groan, along with thousands of others, to show our disappointment.
2) Familiar phenomena: Unfortunately, Christian churches have become a lot like professional sports: most of the people are in the stands, watching the few players and their coaches do all the work. Most of the spectators will cheer or mourn their favorite team or players when the team score a point or make a mistake. They will talk about the game rest of the week expressing their support or disappointment. If their favorite team doesn’t perform to their expectation, these paid spectators will either stop watching the games or change their royalty to another team. In the case of a Christian, they will either stop going to church or change to another church.
WHY IS IT THAT WAY? Just list a few for your reading interest.
1) It has always been this way: No. That is not true. It was not that way to begin with. When the first church started in Jerusalem, it was not this way. All you need to do is read the Book of Acts and many of Paul’s letters to the early churches, the church were everyone’s church. The apostles traveled from place to place, preaching the Gospel of salvation and established churches. Then the believers took over the work and grew their churches. Pastors, elders, deacons, leaders and all the people worked together to expand their ministry and to save souls in their communities. The fact that the first century churches expanded so fast and effective is because of their “all-out” participation of all the believers. Read today’s text and you may see a little of their format.
2) I don’t know how: This is the most excuse people use to cover up their inactive status. Ever since “leadership role” was established in churches, many Christians have chosen to excuse their non-active status by saying “I don’t know how.” It is true that there are parts of ministries that require trained people. It is also true that there are far more areas of church ministries everyone could make a significant contribution to grow the church. Just look around the church and be honest to yourself and ask: Are there things you can do in the church? Are there things you can help? You will find many things you can do and help if you are willing to open your eyes and move your hands and legs.
3) There are enough people: Unlike professional sport which limits the number of players in a game, Christian churches have never set limits on the number of people who may participate in church ministries. In fact, “more the better” is the slogan for all churches, at least for our church. There is not such thing as enough people in any church, be it in leadership role or ministry helpers. Most churches suffer non-growth syndrome is because they have to stretch their man-power so thin. They can’t maintain their ministry, much less expanding their growth. No one should stand idle in God’s church if he/she desires to see his/her church grow. All you need to do is either ask the pastor or someone in leadership position, or just volunteer yourself in doing things that are obvious needing help.
4) I paid my dues: A few Christians may feel that all they need to do to their church is pay their dues, give their financial support, so someone else will do the job. We need to know that our gifts, monetary or otherwise, to church are not dues but the demonstration of gratitude and thanksgiving for God’s blessing. They are never meant to substitute our personal service to Him through His church. No one should feel that because he/she has given to the church, they have bought their “seat” in the church. Giving is a way to support the church, but not the only way. No husband should think that because he has brought home his paycheck, he doesn’t have to do anything in his own home. A church is our spiritual home. We need to serve, work and make sure it is a sweet place all people love to come.
TEAMWORK THE BIBLE WAY:
1) You are part of the Body: “Just as each of us has a body with many parts.” (12:4a) Here the body is the Church, the Body of Christ and you are a part of this body, the church. As much as we want to see the body grows and functions properly and efficiently, each part of the body must contribute its proper function faithfully and consistently. The same principle applies to the church. No church may function and grow properly without ALL the members of the church actively participate in the function of the church. This feeling of “belong” is a very important part for each member of the church. Each one, big and small, young and not so young, very capable or little capable, each part is important to the health condition of the church.
2) Different function, same importance: “These parts do not have same function.” (12:4b) Just as each part of the body has its unique function, each members of a church also has his/her unique way to function and give. In the following verses, 12:6-8, Paul listed many kinds of functions God has placed in each member to function in His church. The idea of “different” is a very important idea in God’s church. We were born with different talents, gifts and strength. God made it that way so we can come together to do different things needed in His church. Never think that you are not important just because you can not preach or teach or sing solo in the choir. God must have given you some talents you can use in this church. The idea that “God never made junk” is a very important idea in the church. God brings you here to this church. He has a purpose for you to function no matter what kind of talents you may have, you are as important as anyone else.
3) There is no” lone rangers”: So in Christ we who are many form one body and each member belong to all the others.” (12:5) “Lone Rangers” may be a good title for a movie, but it is not what God plans for Christians. We may be many in number, may be different in size, shape, abilities and talents, we “belong” to all the others. This is another very important principle: no one is a lone ranger. We all are accountable and responsible to each other. No one could make decision on himself but to consider all the other parts of the body. When you become a Christian and a church member through baptism or membership, you are in a divine contract with Jesus, the Head, and all other parts of the membership. Sense of “community” is very important in Christian faith and its church.
4) No one is “too good”: “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you” (12:3) In Paul’s days and even today, there might be people who think they are too good to do anything in a church which is not as prestigious as other social organizations such as the Rotary Club or Chamber of Commerce. Others might think they are not good enough to serve in the church. We are reminded to be “sober” (reasonable and clear-minded) to the level of gifts God has given us to serve Him faithfully and effectively to grow His kingdom. God has given to each one of us a measure of faith and talents, we are to do our part to that measure, not too high and not too low, just follow God’s direction.
“WHAT CAN I DO?” You may ask this question. Here are a few things Paul suggested. Choose what suits you the best.
1) Preaching and teaching: “If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it. If it is teaching, let him teach.” (12:6, 7) There are people who have the gifts of preaching and teaching. I want to thank those brothers who helped to fill in the pulpit when I was away to bring the words of God to his people. There are also people who have the gift of teaching the word of God and their life applications, let them do what God wants them to do. Preaching and teaching is very important in God’s church. People of God need to be taught so they know what and how to function as effective and productive Christians.
2) “Service is our business”: “If it is serving, let him serve.” (12:7)Some business has used this slogan to publicize their specialty as “service oriented.” God’s church is truly a “service oriented” entity. We are here to serve God, His people and that of the world. Jesus knew the importance of service and the reluctance of his disciples to serve each other. He demonstrated His teaching by washing the feet of his disciples. And he told them that “The Son of man didn’t come to be served but to serve.” Think of ways you can serve God in His church. Find something in God’s house you can do to make it better, more efficient, better equipped and productive. You may also serve God’s people. Just open your eyes and your heart to see the needs of others and find ways to fill the gaps—where no one else is doing. You certainly may find ways to serve the world in God’s name. Volunteer your time, talents and love to care for the needy, the weak and those no one else cares. If you want to serve, you will always find a place and a way.
3) How about encouraging? “If it is encouraging, let him encourage.” (12:8)We see lots of people who are good in discouraging others in words and deeds. God is looking for people who can do encouraging rather than discouraging. Life itself is never easy. Relationships are mostly fragile. Family is hard to build. Jobs are hard to find and keep. Children are rebellious. The list goes on and on. We all can use some encouragement in words, deeds and attitude. Pay attention to people who may have problems they don’t want others to know. Someone may have family or job difficulties. Others may have health issues. Instead of talking behind their back, show your genuine love, concern and care by a phone call, a card, an email or other means you may think of to show them you care. We all have hearts. Make it big enough to share with someone in need.
4) You certainly can give: “If it is giving, let him give generously.” (12:8b)Giving is a big part of Christian faith. God gave us His only Son to die on the cross. Jesus gave His life to save us from our sins. Countless faithful men and women in this church gave so much so we have this church today. It is our duty as well as privilege to give to God, His church and the ministries God calls us to do. Give faithfully, honestly and regularly is important biblical teaching for all Christians. Give back to God what we should, our tithes. Give to the church to advance God’s work on earth is our duty. Give to the needy is our blessing to share what we have. Give your treasures, your money, is the highest measure of your spiritual condition. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:21) How much you love God or how faithful you are to Him can be measured by how faithful you are in giving. Paul told us we should give “generously.” Don’t be stingy with God or God may be stingy with you. Will you come to see God empty-handed? (Use your elbow, not finger)
1) Everyone is a player: If you want to see the church as a sport team, then everyone is a player. God has called us to “play our designated position” to win the game over Satan and the world. No one should sit in the stand and just watch others play. You are an important player to build a winning team.
2) Everyone needs to play well: Every position in a team is important to win. No one may run away from his/her position and expects the team to win. God is our supreme coach and He has a winning strategy. What He needs is everyone in His team plays his/her part faithfully and effectively. Are you a team player?
3) Every soul is precious: We do not play to win trophies or cups. We play to sin souls, your soul and others. If you are not in this team, ask Jesus to enter your heart and forgive your sins. So, you may join the winning team that others may be saved. Confess your sins to Jesus and He will forgive you and make you a member of the soul winning team today.