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Description: It is not what WE do that causes life to go as it does. We exist only to continue to express Christ's Spirit in our world.
Body of Christ Disciplines
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
1 Corinthians 12:14, “For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should
say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part
of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’
that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be
the hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God
arranged the organs in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single organ, where
would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand,
‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary,
the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those parts of the body which
we think less honorable we invest with the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated
with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require.
But God has so composed the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior part, that there may be
no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member
suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body
of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles,
second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators,
speakers in various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do
all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?
But earnestly desire the higher gifts.”
I thought that an important verse was say 1 Corinthians 12:15, “If the foot should say, ‘Because I
am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body.”
So just because you say, “I’m not part of the body,” it doesn’t make you less a part of the body.
In other words, we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus and whether you believe it or I
believe it, or whether you even act like it or I act like it, the fact is we are created in Jesus
and we’re part of Jesus and that’s reality, that’s a fact. And that’s just a fact that will not
change just because you say it’s not true. You and I are just bits of Jesus.
And it came to me in the first prayer there that we are perky conceited little asses, because we
really think always, almost always, in terms of ourselves, “Well, I’m myself you know and yes,
obviously the Lord Jesus died for me and I certainly worship and love him and I ought to praise him
every day.” But we act as if we are apart from him. We act as if we have some existence on our own
and if you reflect on your own attitudes, and your own decisions, and your own actions in your life,
I think you’ll find that a lot of our life if not all of our life, is lived actually as if, “I’m
Ernest O’Neill. I’m Lucy Blomfield. Yes, I have various talents and various gifts and I may not be
as considerate as everybody else but I well, I have my own life and yes I will give it to the Lord,
you know.” And it’s so conceited.
There is such an inborn conceit about us that is virtually insufferable. When you reflect that in
actual fact we’re not existing on our own. We are not apart from God. We are actually part of
Jesus and the only reason we are able to have another thought or to be conscious of anything else
this next second is because Christ’s invisible life is in us. I was saying to Marty, oh that one of
the philosophical points that they make to us or they made to us in Philosophy One at university was
simply questioning the law of cause and effect, which of course, I as a 17 year old coming from high
school thought, “Well you can’t question the law of cause and effect obviously, there’s cause and
And then of course, the old Macbeth, his name was Professor Macbeth, started with the billiard balls
and you hit the white ball with your cue and it rolls over and hits the red ball and knocks the red
ball into the pocket. And we say of course, we brought that about, we with our cue carefully
directed the white ball so that it hit the red ball exactly at the right angle and shot it off at an
angle into the pocket. And then of course he says, “Yes, but what if those events were just
concomitant?” Concomitant means if they just happen together. “What if those just happen together?
What if just some other force just arranged that when your cue would hit the white ball a couple of
seconds later that white ball would roll over, hit the red ball, and then the red ball would go into
the pocket. But that this other force actually arranges the red ball to go into the pocket, that
it’s not your white ball hitting it that knocks it in. The red ball just happened to go in at the
same moment as the white ball hit it.”
And of course, once you begin to analyze cause and effect as carefully as that it becomes quite
difficult to prove that a cause had a certain effect. It becomes impossible to prove it when you
and I realize how many things had to be held together, molecules, protons, neutrons, just to keep
that red ball looking like a red ball because we know it’s a lot of little electrical charges
spinning around each other. And obviously, the only way that red ball appears as a red ball to us
is because some force keeps all those protons, neutrons, spinning around in that shape and it’s the
same with the white ball.
In other words, we know that everything there on that billiard table is held together by, well the
Bible says it clearly, “All things were created in Christ and without him nothing was created. And
all things hold together in Christ.” And so the whole universe holds together in Christ so it
becomes more and more obvious that what we say is our cause brought about this effect is almost not
worth saying because there are so many other things that are held together by God himself that one
has to say, “No, God himself gives the appearance of us doing things but actually we do very
Of course, the proof of it, or the evidence, or suggestion of it is in all our lives because we know
how we work, and work, and work. And we know that sometimes the work produces sales and sometimes
it doesn’t produce a thing. And we thereupon of course, begin to work out, “Oh yes, it was because
I didn’t make the presentation right.” Or, “It was because of this, or because of that.” Until we
run out of all the reasons because we get such a conglomeration of reasons, “Why did the silver go?
Or why does it not go?” Or, “Why did the enamel sell in this shop and it didn’t sell here?” And
after you’ve gone through all your arguments you at last finally give up and if you were really
honest you’d see it’s almost impossible to explain. But of course, we’re not really honest, we want
to hold on to our own little conceited ability to do things.
But the truth is that everything is actually in the hands of Jesus and we do not cause anything. He
allows us, for the sake of our sanity I suppose, or for the sake of teaching us something about
order, he allows us to think that we bring about certain things but actually we don’t. We are all
just part of him and of course, you can see the real danger in us getting caught up with running our
own lives. The real danger of thinking, “I caused this and I cause that, I bring this about
therefore I ought to in the next weeks bring this about.” And it’s not long, we’ll those of us who
try to lead would see that whether we lead or not we all see it in our own personal lives how you
can get utterly caught up. You feel, “The thing is getting out of control, it’s out of control.”
Out of control? It was never in control.
But, we kind of persuade ourselves that we have some things in control and there are a few that are
out of control and we get worked up or exacerbated. Actually, we should be batty and insane every
moment of every day because we don’t control anything we are just part of Jesus and we’re part of
his life and it’s him that brings about a semblance of order in our lives. But how often, how often
when you turned a corner in the car and the other thing has been coming straight towards you? How
often has the bike started to slide? How often have so many things? How often has your body almost
stopped working and the Father steps in, Jesus steps in and lifts the whole thing? How many of us
here would say we would be alive just because of our own care and own careful driving? No, all of
us would say, “At some moment we missed it. At some moment we went over the crown of the road and
if the other guy had not been awake we would have been dead.”
So we are just part of Jesus but you can see how insufferable we are, how insufferably conceited
little independent creatures we are that we keep on in a sense negotiating from this kind of little
fortress we have called Ernest O’Neill, or Marty Poehler, this little self with its walls and yes,
we’ll reach out, we will reach out to Christ. It’s ridiculous, a little fly on here says, “I will
reach out to Ernest O’Neill.” That’s, “You’ve finished reaching out fly.” That’s all God has to
So it’s important for us to see that because we say, “We are not part of the body.” Or because we
think as if we aren’t part of the body, that doesn’t make us less a part of the body. We are a part
of Jesus. We are part of him. We are a little bit of him and what I thought he wanted to say to us
today was “What then is our life to be?” What then is our life to be, our daily life, our
moment-by-moment life? If that is the case, what is our life to be? Because we can see it can no
longer be the life that we normally live. I mean, that’s a meaningless life where we – well, it’s a
life without order. I mean, the world tries to pretend that there’s an order to it, you go and you
get your money after you’ve done your work and then you buy your food with your money and you buy
clothes with it. The world tries to give us a feeling that there’s some kind of order but we see,
no there is no order because repeatedly that whole thing would have broken down completely if some
other power or force had not stepped in.
So what is our life to be? If it’s not to be that getting us spending we lay a waste our days, if
it’s not to be that tomorrow I will go to such and such a city and do this thing and that thing, if
that is in fact a meaningless pretense then what is our life to be? And I mean, the Savior said, if
you look at John 4:34, even his life, even his own life had a very clear purpose. John 4:34, “Jesus
said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work.’” “My food
is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work.” I mean, that’s what Jesus is
But of course, it doesn’t take a genius at logic to see that if we are part of him that is the
purpose of our lives. That’s the purpose of our lives. And that’s why he says food, I mean, can
you see how conceited we are. We say, “Oh yes, my food is to do – yes, it would certainly be much
healthier for me to spend my life doing the will of the Lord. That’s a healthy thing it’s
psychologically healthy. That’s what it means, it’s my food you know, to do that.” Or we say worse
than that we say, “Yes, yes, Jesus was certainly dedicated to that and we should make that our very
food. We should make that our very food. Yes I am rather arbitrary about that I just think oh well
I’m doing something good for God, or I’m paying him a compliment by trying to do his will. Really,
my attitude should be that that’s the very meaning of my life.”
I don’t want to say go to hell but I say what bluff. Our food is to do the will of him who sent me?
It’s our very life. It’s our very life. There is no point of us being here. It is mad, it is
foolishness the eating, the sleeping, the fun with the chocolate sorbet and all that but it’s
nothing there’s no point in it. It’s death, it’s emptiness. Our food is to do the will of him.
Our food, our very life and I’m not saying our life as Christian Corps, that’s stupid that’s a
nothing. Christian Corps is a nothing. I’m saying each one of you and me, our very life, our life
does not exist unless it is doing what God sent you to do. You, you, each one of you and me not you
as a member of Christian Corps, not you as a sales person, not me as whatever I am, not that, that
doesn’t matter two bits. But Jesus exists in each of you here in this room, you are part of him and
he has a will of his Father to do in you and it’s not just so often we say, “Oh yes, overall,
overall Lucy contributes this to it.” And we’re so stupid you know, Christian Corps, Christian
Corps, Christian Corps, and Lucy contributes to this. Or, Fish or Crown, Lucy contributes this you
know, she’s design. Now Mary she contributes this, you know. Now Myron he contributes this.” No,
no, each moment of every day independent of what everybody else here thinks you contribute or what
does it matter what they think, each moment of every day Christ himself has a work to do through
you, through you.
He has things for your hands to do, things for your eyes to do, things for your tongue to speak and
every time our tongue is babbling, mine especially, every time our tongue is babbling and our eyes
are flitting around, and our thoughts are wandering everywhere, every time that’s happening we are
doing nothing but wasting time, nothing but wasting time. We’re just blowing in the wind, that’s
all we’re doing because each second of every day Jesus himself has a word, a thought, an attitude,
an action to do through us and he has it and it will flow out through us. And that’s why I think
it’s right to say the arm does what the head of the body wants done and the eye does what the head
of the body wants to do.
So you know if you say to me, “Your right eye is blinking.” Well, yes that comes from my mind. My
head determines my eye blinks so Jesus is the head of the body and he determines what you do and
that’s why it’s so important to see that your life and mine is to act, and speak, and think, and
live from Jesus’ heart, from Jesus’ heart. Our life is to live from the heart of Jesus which is
always why I find it a little tricky, I found it always a little bit – it just didn’t seem right to
me when of course at seminary, I’m sure it’s like doctors, and medics, and nurses, and everybody who
is trained in a profession, when you’re away from patients, or you’re away from church or whatever
it is, you joke about the things that you’ve learned to operate and you’ve learned to control. And
I always had difficulty doing it.
It’s the same today when I know we kind of – we kind of say it lightly and part of fun but that’s –
we have done it where we talk about something serious and then somebody jokes about it afterwards.
Well, I mean I understand the attitude and it’s kind of the attitude lighten up buddy and that sort
of thing, but I’ve always found it a little difficult because I think we’ve to live from the heart
of Jesus. Where we talk about things as ethical actions that we ought to do I kind of agree with
you, we can joke about those you know, but it seems to me there’s a fine line there where you go
over, when you joke about certain things, you go over that fine line from joking about even the way
the person has expressed it, you go over then into touching something holy, the heart of Christ.
It seems to me that’s why the only point and purpose of our life is to live every moment from Jesus’
heart. I don’t think that will be as solemn as we all think. I think he may smile and laughter and
jokes and I think that’s why old Francis and the guys were so good, the guy who turned backwards
summersaults out of his joy of the Virgin Mary. I think the religious life is far different from
what we all say it is but it seems to me our life is only real if it’s lived from Jesus’ heart and
Jesus’ heart is not the list of things that we think Jesus would do. It’s not that, it’s a
closeness to Christ. It’s a oneness with him so that he feels something, we feel it, we do it.
It’s that. It’s that kind of immediacy.
I think I’ve bored the old Catholics enough with this but of course the thing we had great trouble
with when we came to a Catholic home, I told you about it, it was a big picture of Jesus and then
his breast open and his heart it seemed sometimes bleeding but then it was called the sacred heart
of Jesus and of course we – oh, the sacred heart of Jesus. That is it. That is it. I mean, I
don’t know all that it means in the Catholic Church so I understand how it can become dead
tradition, the sacred heart of Jesus, that’s the meaning of our life; the sacred heart of Christ,
living from the sacred heart of Christ.
And it seems to me that brings glorious diversity and great beauty in individual’s lives and of
course, a freedom from the dreadful agony that that dear brother of ours Dan McCarty, obviously got
under. Because of course, it takes away all this pressure and feeling of burden, and strain, and
stress and takes away all this fear of man and all this desire to please this one or that one. Oh,
it just frees you from the whole – all the human pressures that can take place when you’re part of a
community because of course the community falls back down into its rightful position and raised up
in your head and your heart is this wonderful master, this wonderful Jesus of whom you are part and
he becomes everything to you and your whole life and every day is built on what he’s saying to you.
And of course at times he speaks through a bird, and at times through the sky, but it’s a glorious
continual communion with him that becomes the very meaning of your life, the very heart of your
And it seems to me that is what our life is to be. It’s to be a life lived from the sacred heart of
Christ, from Jesus’ heart. And I think that’s part of the meaning of those who belong to Christ
have the spirit of Christ. I think it’s the whole spirit of Christ that issues from us day-by-day.
And I suspect that that then would blossom forth into new jewelry and all the rest of it, all the
new designs and all that. I don’t want to be ridiculous but when we talk about, “Well, I’m trusting
God for new designs.” Ah, forget it you’re no where near getting new designs, you’re trusting the
Lord for new designs. New designs come bursting out of the joy of Jesus’ life in us.
I mean it’s nice and holy to say, “Yeah, I’m trusting the Lord for new designs.” Well you don’t
need to talk about it, you don’t need to say, “Lord Jesus, don’t forget I’m trusting you for new
designs. I’m gonna trust you. Okay.” And he says, “Okay, you can trust me.” No, I mean, it’s a
glorious loving friendship. I hesitate to say this one but it just sticks in my mind even though
it’s not the most holiest poem by any means, but it’s a modern poem and a little sexy I think,
really. But the guy says, “Lovers in the act dispense with the meum-teum sense.” Meum in Latin is
me, my. Teum is you. Lovers in the act dispense with the this is mine this is yours of course
because in the sense it is biblical that the husband is the master of the wife’s body and da-da-da
but that’s what it is in Jesus.
We are lovers, see. I think that’s what Francis and Saint John of the Cross touch and what is so
alien often to us with our hardness and with our mental Christianity. And we often aren’t quite
comfortable with that. We wonder, “Now these guys they weren’t married. I wonder what attitude had
they.” But actually, they were lovers of Christ because he is our lover and he loves us and has
taken us to himself and opened his very heart and body to us and we are perched in there kind of
with our clothes on you know, negotiating out with him who has already exposed himself in nakedness
on the cross. And then of course, opened his whole heart to us and wants us to move with him in
love day-by-day and moment-by-moment. And we of course push off and, “No we will live by your laws
Lord, we will follow your example.” And he says, “I don’t want that. I want you to know my heart.
I want you to feel my heart, and act from my heart, and speak from my heart. That’s what I want.
That’s why I did all this. That’s why I made you.” And it seems to me that’s what it is, that’s
what our life is about. Let us pray.
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