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Description: Life and Growth in Christ’s Body
Life and Growth in Christ’s Body
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Well, I just wanted to wrap up the verse that we’ve been talking about and to bring home to each of
us that you are part of Jesus’ body that each one of us is a part of his body. And maybe just look
at it there in Ephesians 4:16, and then there is a particular conclusion that I know God wants us to
share, but Ephesians 4:16, “From whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with
which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in
love.” And I don’t know if you have got hold, I think you have, of the – I admit kind of profound
concept that all of humanity is really Jesus coming to earth.
That’s really what we’re saying, that God has sent his Son to this earth and all of us, each one of
us is part of him. And his Son Jesus is working on this creation to bring it into harmony with his
Father and through that, to bring us all into the place that he has for us inside himself. So
that’s what’s happening, and that you are really part of Jesus here on earth and he has certain
things that he has to do through you, and in the course of doing them he really is working to make
you a harmonious part of himself. So each one of you is part of him and I am part of him. And it
is in that sense that we’re part of his body and I think you’ve got hold of the idea that it’s an
understatement, and an under interpretation, indeed you could say a misinterpretation of the whole
idea of the body of Christ in looking upon it just as an organizational chart, you know. “Oh yes,
yes, we’re kind of like the body of Christ.” Well that’s not what it is. The Bible says, “You are
individually members of him,” and of course again, and again the Bible says, “That God has made you
inside his Son.”
It is really important that you grasp that. And it is very hard, because you’re wrapped up in
Martha Nelson you know, and wrapped up in Greg Leitschuh, and wrapped up in Ernest O’Neill and I
know who my dad was and who my mum was and we’re absolutely just covered in the oil of that. And in
many ways it’s nice, and it’s a nice complement to our parents, and to our family, but it’s not
Christianity and it’s so hard for us to get a hold of that, that that is blood relationship and it’s
just a human thing, and it’s a passing thing, and God almost makes it plain to us, because my dad
isn’t here anymore, my mum isn’t here, and your dad isn’t here, and they are passing. And God does
try to make it clear to us that the blood thing is just his way of getting us onto earth here and
that you are part of Jesus, and he is certainly your brother, but it seems to me in amazing ways, he
is also your eternal Father, as Isaiah says.
So it’s important that you get hold of it and I sympathize with everybody here who has trouble with
that one and keeps thinking, “No, no, I’m my dad’s little girl and that’s really who I am.” But
your dad isn’t here anymore or there’ll come a time when he isn’t here anymore, and you’re on your
own. And there’ll come another time when none of us are beside you. Even if we’re all exactly
beside you, there’ll come a time when you don’t think anybody is near you because you’re out in that
new area which will take place when we leave this earth and go to heaven.
So it is just important to see that you are part of Jesus, that that’s the reality, you’re part of
him. And then of course, this whole verse is full of those words that God has carefully planned you
here that you’re not here because we met at Campus Church, you’re not here because we came to
Minnesota and met you, or you can to Minnesota and met Greg. That’s not why we’re here. We’re here
because God carefully planned us. That’s what the verse says, “We were carefully planned by him to
be part of his Son,” and that’s your calling and that’s the reality of your life. And then that we
were planted together, and as dear Tyndale says, we were carefully knit together, that God’s Spirit
planned us in his Son and then started to work to bring us close to each other. And I think that’s
where it goes beyond we’re all Minnesotans together or we’ll all Americans together or even, we’re
all Christians together.
Well it’s more than that. You’re a new creation. You were not her brother, you were not his
sister. We were not born in the same family. None of us were born next to each other and even if
we had been, God’s Spirit has determined that you will be closer to each other than that. And I
think that’s where it goes astray a lot. I think, you mean, Trish is meant to be closer to Joe than
she is to Marty? In amazing ways yes in other ways, no, but in amazing ways God knits us together
as part of his Son differently from the way we are knit together as friends, or as colleagues, or
even as husbands and wives.
There’s a unique knitting together that God’s Spirit is talking about here that takes place because
we’re part of Jesus, and we’re as necessary to each other as – more necessary than even our husbands
or wives, that’s the amazing thing, and it’s very hard to get that and I think – I’m sure poor Irene
I’ve felt often for her and I would tell everybody I love them, or something like that, and well do
you love them all? And it’s hard often to be – to be as wise as we – as God calls us to be. To see
that there is a deep interaction between us as part of Jesus that is different from the interaction
that we have as human beings and it is in many ways deeper and more complex. And that’s where that
verse comes, “By the strength that every joint supplies.” We’re joined together by joints and you
remember, one of the commentators said, “It’s not just elbows, it’s the muscles, and the tendons,
and the ligaments, that hold you together and that hold people together by the strength that God has
given to those joints. So you are a tendon for somebody else and you are a muscle for someone else,
and Jesus gives you a certain amount of strength that you are used to draw two other people
And that’s it, that there’s a great interacting that takes place among us and that’s, I think, what
we’ve only started to see. Yeah, I mean, you are good – better at computers than Martha, and she’s
better than you at selling and it’s obvious of course, that you have things to share with each other
that way, but that’s only a little of it. God has planted you together so that there’s a deeper
oneness that he can bring about inside himself, a harmony that Jesus can bring about inside himself.
Really, we’re pretty crude, we’re crude. This is his hand and he knows what this finger will do,
and what this thumb will do, and he knows when they’ll do it, and he knows how they’re connected
together, and the piece of his own life, as a piece of my life, depends on those things being
connected together. And what agony comes, and we see it at times when people get paralysis and that
sort of thing, what agony comes to the poor mind when it can’t get those two things to come
But that’s what we do with the Savior. See, if we could only see that, that’s what we do with him.
Not just when we’re fighting each other but even when we’re not working together, when we’re not
folding into each other, melting into each other, then right up, back right up to his dear head, to
his dear mind, to the head of the body there comes a strain and a stress, and that’s why – that’s
why the crucifixion is such a real presentation of the agony he goes through, because it’s the pain
of his body being stretched. And we do it – I mean, that Catholic church did the same as I think
all of the rest of us do, in our human way we try to imagine it and of course, that fellow did that
terrible movie about Christ where it was purely the physical suffering, and it’s an attempt to bring
the intensity of the physical suffering home. That isn’t the agony. The agony is the agony that he
suffers day, by day, by day. Not just when you two argue with each other, that’s a crude thing but
when you fail to come into the unseen ministry together that he has for you.
So there’s a precious oneness and that’s where it comes to the whole body then increase and builds
itself up through that so that when each part is working properly, the body itself increases in
strength and increases in love. And then as that happens the world begins to see there’s a depth of
life together that is beyond anything we’ve experienced, and that’s when the body of Christ
evangelizes. Well us, dear help us, we’re like people who say, “We’re not having a good time here.
It’s a terrible party but we want you to come to it. We want you to come to it.” And they say,
“No, we don’t like it.” And we say, “Oh, but you ought to come because it’s true.” Well, what is
meant is I, when I’m lifted up will draw all men until myself, when I am lifted up in all of you.
When the world sees me as I am and sees life here on earth as it’s meant to be.
And then that gets us into the last – really it’s the last phrase that I felt I should share with
you, that it upbuilds itself in love. The body upbuilds itself in love. And love does mean
something other than just saying, “I love you brother.” And it means more than just helping you
when you have trouble in your car or helping you when you have trouble organizing your sales routes.
Love does mean putting yourself in the other person’s shoes.
I don’t know how – I do think you do some of this, I do think you do some of it. Old Myron I think
kind of did it, it always seemed to me naturally but obviously, it comes from his heart. But he
couldn’t – I believe I’m right in saying, it’s my own attitude and I think it was his attitude, he
couldn’t sit in a room and see Joe fiddling around without thinking, “Now, I wonder is Joe is
enjoying himself? I wonder would he like to do something.” And I really do think that was why
Myron – it’s not just because he’s a herd instinct guy, I think that was really in his heart when he
would say, “Oh, let’s go for a run,” or, “Let’s go for a bicycle ride.” And it seems to me that
that’s what love is. Love is thinking what is the other person thinking and feeling tonight? What
is this other person really experiencing inside? It’s something rather deeper than, “I wonder is
Joe lonely tonight?” Or, “I wonder is Joanne lonely tonight?”
It’s something deeper than that. It’s actually putting yourself into the other person’s mind and
heart, and thinking, “Now what would I be thinking if I were sitting there tonight?” And you’re not
always right but at least love is putting yourself in that position and thinking in those terms.
Love is the opposite of thinking just of yourself and what you’re doing, and how you’re feeling.
Love is actually forgetting about yourself not thinking about yourself at all but thinking
automatically about the other person. That’s why – that’s what it means, “Love your neighbor as
yourself.” It really means in place of your self. Of course, we wonderful liberal modernists say,
“Oh yeah, yeah, you have to love yourself. First I have to love myself and then I can love them.”
That’s silliness. It’s love.
All our dads and mums knew what it was, if you love your neighbors yourself, it’s what everybody
talks about when they misapply giving your life for others in a war. They know giving your life for
other is giving your life to save others, and it’s throwing your life away so that they can have
their life, and that’s what love is. Love is forgetting your own life, forgetting your own
convenience, forgetting your own self, not even thinking how you’re feeling, but thinking
immediately how that person is feeling and putting yourself in their shoes, and saying to yourself,
“I couldn’t bear that so I’m not going to let them bear it. I’m going to do something to make their
life good, or to make their evening enjoyable.” So it is just a very practical substituting other
people for yourself, but that’s what happens when we begin to live as part of Jesus. The whole
fellowship then begins to build itself up and increase in strength, and increase in love. And then
of course, the world falls on its face. Of course it would, as we fall on our face when we see him.
So it is a precious thing and I’d encourage you to go for it, to go for all of it and not to hold
back and above all not to dishonor our Lord and indeed dishonor each other by regarding this little
Christian Corps thing that we call it, this little group as a very intense Christian discipleship or
Christian fellowship. It’s not that, it’s the body of Jesus. It’s no less than the body of Christ.
We are no less than part of him himself. Let us pray.
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