Listen to Sermon Audio
I Corinthians 12:12-27
Let’s play a little game in which I will provide you with the definition of a word and you come up with the word:
To get paid to watch TV and eat other people’s food while someone’s kid sleeps?’
Hint: Verb Show Answer
When you’re too young for half the things you want to do and too old to do the rest?
Hint: Noun Show Answer
A device used for looking less alone while in public places by yourself?
Hint: Noun Show Answer
A device used to find Legos in the dark?
Hint: Noun Show Answer
Agreement where a man loses his Bachelor Degree and a woman gains her Masters?
Hint: Noun Show Answer
A group of people working together in a committed way to achieve a common goal or mission?
Hint: Noun Show Answer
‘Team’ is not a bad image to borrow to describe the body of Christ. 1 Cor 12:12-13 . . . team . . . 1 Cor 12:14-18 . . . team . . . 1 Cor 12:27-28 . . . team!
We are indeed ‘a group of people working together in a committed way to achieve a common goal or mission.’ Team Crosspointe; called together by the Lord Himself for the purpose of helping Him bring His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
We need to be reminded every once in a while that we are a team because it is so easy for us to fall into the trap of thinking that the church is an ‘individual’ sport.
Since the end of World War II, our society has continued its evolution toward what some sociologist termed ‘rugged individualism’ defined by Merriman’s as ‘the practice and/or advocacy of individualism in social and economic relations emphasizing personal liberty and independence, self-reliance, and self-direction of the individual.’ 1 In other words, we hold in high esteem one of Frank Sinatra’s most popular songs: I Did It My Way.
But when that kind of ideology worms its way into the church, it is detrimental to the body of Christ every time. And when people in the body of Christ think, make decisions and behave based solely upon what I think and feel regardless how it affects others that spells trouble. That is one reason Paul writes, “The eye can never say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’ The head can’t say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you.’
For the body to act efficiently, it must recognize that we all need each other working together toward a common goal.
You and I belong to the body of Christ. To be sure, many parts, but one cohesive body working together in a committed way to achieve a common goal or purpose.
When that happens we have what some call ‘synergy.’
Synergy is a word that describes how the performance of a team is much greater than the performance of its individual parts.
Synergy can begin to be illustrated by one the Peanuts cartoons in which Lucy demanded that Linus change TV channels threatening him with her fist if he didn’t. “What makes you think you can walk right in here and take over?” asks Linus. “These five fingers,” says Lucy. “Individually they’re nothing, but when I curl them together like this into a single unit, they form a weapon that is terrible to behold.” “Which channel do you want?” asks Linus. Turning away, he looks at his fingers and says, “Why can’t you guys get organized like that?”
A team becomes more than just a collection of individual people when a strong sense of mutual commitment creates synergy, thus generating performance greater than the sum of the performance of its individual members. In other words, when a group of people pool all of their resources in order to move the same direction they can get much, much further than any of them could as individuals.
Any basketball or football team knows that. When you look to the most talented person(s) on the team to win the game, that team has lost already.
In a NCAA Final Four a coach was asked, “Why has your team done so well?” He replied, “We have a motto on our team, and the motto is this: ‘Good people do for themselves; great people do for others.'” We don’t have anyone who thinks he has to do everything; he doesn’t try to make the basket every time he comes down the court. We have a team that says, “Let’s get everybody involved.” 2
“There is no ‘I’ in TEAMWORK.” And there shouldn’t be in the church either.
Teams function at their best when all the players see themselves as part of the team.
Most organizations operate on the 20/80 principle; where 20% of the people do 80% of the work. But in the body of Christ, everyone has something to contribute!
The Ant Bully is a computer-animated movie about a boy, Lucas, who terrorizes an ant colony on his lawn by spraying water and stepping on them. In response, an ant wizard shrinks Lucas to ant size. Throughout the film, the boy is forced to live and work with the ants. In a scene, Lucas and his ant friend Zac are lying on the ground at night, staring at a lit-up city in the distance. Zoc asks, “So this city of yours, it’s like an ant nest?”
“Well, yeah,” Lucas answers. “Kind of.”
“And the people are all brothers working together for the good of the colony?”
“Well, not exactly; it’s a little more like, you know, every man for himself.”
“But that’s so primitive,” Zoc chides. “Why do they live like that?”
Lucas, says, “I suppose it’s because of their differences.”
“But it’s the differences that make an ant colony strong; foragers, scouts, drones, nurses, regurgitators; all are different, but an essential part of the whole. This is what makes us strong.” 3
TEAM . . . Together Everyone Achieves More!
And Paul wants us to understand that everyone has something to offer no matter how insignificant we might think it is.
Craig Barnes, pastor of National Presbyterian Church, in Washington, D.C was asked to conduct the funeral for a man who had helped develop the Boeing 747. After the service, he spoke with the widow and commented on how remarkable it was that her late husband had helped build that marvelous machine. She said, “The truth is, he worked on one little switchbox for 15 years. But when that 747 lifted off the ground for the first time, it was the happiest day of his life.” He worked on one small switchbox for more than a decade. Yet the huge plane couldn’t have lifted off without this man’s contribution. 4
Often we see only our seemingly small efforts and feel we aren’t very important. But when the great Kingdom of God lifts off, we’ll be thrilled to find out that all of our efforts were essential.
We have a couple of events coming up on back to back Sundays that are going to require our best teamwork.
On Sunday, August 26th our Trustees are hopeful that as many as possible will stay after worship to accomplish many improvements on our building before Fall. We will need people who can fill holes, sand, scrape, and paint. We will need people to measure, saw and nail up baseboard and corner round. We will need people who can measure, cut and glue cove base. We will need people who can clean.
And on the following Sunday, September 2nd our Leadership Team is hopeful that as many as possible will help us pull off another successful Year End Summer Party. We will need people to load, transport to the beach and return equipment to the church. We will need food preparers, food servers, and ticket sellers.
As Christian pastor, author and leadership training par excellent, John Maxwell titled one of his little booklets: Teamwork Makes the Dream Work. 5
Speaking of John Maxwell, in The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork, he writes:
During World War II, when Britain was experiencing its darkest days, the country had a difficult time keeping men in the coal mines. Many wanted to give up their dirty, thankless jobs in the dangerous mines to join the military service, which garnered much public praise and support. Yet their work in the mines was critical to the war. Without coal, the military and the people at home would be in trouble. So Prime Minister Winston Churchill faced thousands of coal miners one day and told them of their importance to the war effort, how their role could make or break the goal of maintaining England’s freedom. Churchill painted a picture of what it would be like when the war ended, the grand parade that would honor the people who fought the war. First would come the sailors of the navy, the people who continued the tradition of Trafalgar and the defeat of the Spanish Armada. Next would come the best and brightest of Britain, the pilots of the Royal Air Force, who fended off the German Lutwaffe. Following them would be the soldiers who fought at Dunkirk. Last of all would come the coal-dust-covered men in miners’ caps. Churchill indicated that someone from the crowd might say, “Where were they during the critical days of the struggle?” And the voices of thousands of men would respond, “We were in the earth with our faces to the coal.” It’s said that tears appeared in the eyes of the hardened men. And they returned to their inglorious work with steely resolve, having been reminded of the role they were playing in their country’s noble goal of pursuing freedom for the Western World. 6
For the team . . . for the team . . . for the team … not our team . . . but Christ’s team . . . Christ’s team at Crosspointe.
United States track star Wilma Rudolph, winner of three gold medals in the 1960 Rome Olympics was asked which medal was her favorite. “My favorite gold medal?” she responded. “That’s easy . . . it was the relay because I won that with my teammates and we could celebrate together.”
Christ has blessed us so much! He has given us the right to stand on the winner’s platform. In Him we have already received the gold medal of eternal life. In Him we are gifted and called to serve in hopes of having others take their place alongside us. And what a blessing that as we engage in this grand and holy endeavor we do so together; we win the game with our teammates and as did Wilma Rudolph, we will celebrate together!
How many of you have seen the highly-regarded HBO miniseries Band of Brothers? If you haven’t, you should. It follows Easy Company of the 101st Airborne through their the preparation and experience of invading Europe on D-Day and pushing the Nazi’s back to their homeland where they are defeated. Based on real-life interviews by survivors, the series captures both teamwork and the heroism of the troops. The closing scene of the documentary shows war hero Lieutenant Richard Winters telling the interviewer about the rare combination of humility and valor in so many of his men. The aging Winters, choked with emotion, quotes from a letter he received from a comrade who was also decorated for valor by President Eisenhower. His friend wrote, “I cherish the memory of a question my grandson asked the other day when he said, ‘Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?’ Grandpa said, ‘No, but I served in a company of heroes.'” 7
I hope that someday after I retire, one of my grandson’s or great-grandsons, if I am so blessed, will ask me, “G-man?” (that’s what Matthew calls me) were you a hero in the church?” And I will answer, “No, but I served in a company of heroes.”
2 Phil Lineberger, “Great People Do for Others,” Preaching Today, Tape 62.
3 The Ant Bully (Warner Brothers, 2006), written and directed by John A. Davis; submitted by Jerry De Luca, Montreal West, Quebec, Canada
4 M. Craig Barnes, pastor of National Presbyterian Church, Washington, D.C., from a sermon delivered at Christianity Today International (9-19-00); submitted by Kevin Miller, Wheaton, Illinois
5 Maxwell, John. Teamwork Makes the Dream Work. [Nashville: Maxwell Motivation, © 2002] Cover.
6 Maxwell, John. The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork. [Nashville: Thomas Nelson, © 2001] page
7 “We Stand Alone Together,” Band of Brothers (HBO, 2001), written by Stephen Ambrose, produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg