Our Identity – United together in Christ
Gung Ho! Serving All Together
1 Cor 12:12-31
† In Jesus Name †
May you know, intimately and deepy, the gifts of God, the mercy and love and peace that works within you as you love those whose lives you have a share in!
The USMC – and Gung Ho!
My father served in our military, in the exclusive branch known as the United States Marine Corps. He was a corpsman, which is basically a doctor’s assistant in the field of battle – but trained to do what he could to save men’s lives until they could be taken to the doctors, many miles behind the field of battle.
Growing up – and hearing the stories, not of battle – but of the spirit and teamwork of the USMC often, I heard two phrases that are the mottos, the slogans of the USMC. Neither is English, but they are phrases they have taken from the places they have served. They express things that take many words in English – and even then are vague. The first is in Latin, Semper Fi – it means always faithful, always dedicated, always willing to sacrifice, that others may be safe, and protected. The other my dad had no knowledge of the origin of. But it turns out to be from China, from the Marines who served hear before World War II. I would imagine it is very badly mispronounced – but it at the heart of this attitude of the Corps.
In Americanese – it is said this way – Gung Ho…
I don’t know if the USMC got the word right, or even the concept. But the concept they attached to this word is critical to them. From the way my father described it – it means to strive together – to work with everything everyone has, to achieve their goal. Each person using their skills where they are at – but also helping each other to do their best as well. It is the idea at the heart of the USMC – and it is the reason they are the most successful of the four parts of our military. It is not about who is strong, or who is weak – it is about the unit, the entire team.
It is a phrase I think – with our “meaning” ascribed to it, that would be most appropriate for a Christian community.
Our Independent Spirit
Not God’s plan! It is impossible/sin
That is a challenge in America today- where everyone is encouraged to do what is best – not for the community but for themselves. Independence is perceived as a virtue – and to lose that dependence and depend on others is seen as a weakness.
It is perhaps our greatest weakness, as those with more abilities are encouraged not to help – but to push on, ignoring those around them with different abilities. God’s call to love your neighbors – the people you interact with regularly, as you love yourself is pretty much ignored – in order that you might be successful – or achieve wealth or popularity or material things.
Perhaps that challenge is here in this society as well? The idea that one should focus on climbing the ladder of success – no matter who you have to step on to achieve that next step?
That is not the way God describes His people, His community functioning. As Paul says, that is like the foot hating that he isn’t a hand, or the ear not happy and leaving the body unless it can do the work of the ear! Surely God has chosen were each of us fit – yet no one is more important than the rest. Some of the most important – are the parts – like the heart and brain, that are never seen- but provide the very life for the rest of the body!
Indeed – such self-centeredness – what sociologists term narcissism, is the basic description of sin. To chose to love myself more than others, to choose to see myself as valuable, more valuable than the others… that is sin.
An example – I have the most visible role in my church – or perhaps I should say the most audible. I am the one up front all the time – it is my job to speak. But there are others, like Wanda and Kay, that keep everything moving in our church – especially Wanda! She is like the heart which beats – sending God’s love in every direction. Then there are the brains, Al and Jim and Bob, Manny and Tom and my other leaders – who help decide how best to meet the needs of all. However, each has their role – but what would happen if one decided to take all of the roles?
Such is sin, pure and simple.
And it is one – it should function as one, it should live as one.
We are the Body of Christ – joined to Him means joined together! Gung Ho – each with His different talents/abilities/charisms – charisms being the term for the special gifts – that define each part of the body.
To be united to him means that every barrier is broken down, that we understand every person is part – and not that parts aren’t important, but that they are at their most important, as they interact within the community.
When Christ reconciles us to God our Father, it is not just an individual thing, He reconciles humanity to Himself, all born of water and spirit. In reconciling us to Himself – we find ourselves reconciled to each other. We truly become one body – united in Christ. United in His love, which Paul will discuss in the next chapter- united in His, perfection.
That is the power of the cross – the place Paul described this way:
12 For when you were baptized, you were buried with Christ, and in baptism you were also raised with Christ through your faith in the active power of God, who raised him from death. 13 You were at one time spiritually dead because of your sins and because you were Gentiles without the Law. But God has now brought you to life with Christ. God forgave us all our sins; 14 he canceled the unfavorable record of our debts with its binding rules and did away with it completely by nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:12-14 (TEV)
Think this through – if God nailed sin – all of the debts owed because of it it, to the cross. If there Christ wiped the slate clean, and cancelled our debts…. Then what is left to divide us from each other?
That person that irritated you, even if it was intentional (as you are certain it was) – that sin is gone – the damage it did healed. That thing you did, that has been haunting you for years, that too is forgiven. All of those debts, all of those problems, all of that junk – was nailed to the cross with Christ….
Done away with….
You are free…you are a new creation, a part of the body of Jesus Christ.
As are those around you who have been freed, brought into His new life, cleansed, and loved….
We are free….together!
That is how the body of Christ, His people, can be one – with nothing dividing us. Each part moving on its own, yet in sympathy – like a great symphony – each person playing their part. No one focusing on which part is best – because all parts are necessary. We are the body, We are His body.
We can learn to love, to even love sacrificially, because we are part of the whole, and for one to love another… that is the blessing of our life in Christ.
It is no wonder that God calls us His masterpiece, His worksmanship, as He makes us all into one body, one life.
Living together, living in His mercy and love – knowing that we are forgiven and cleansed of all unrighteousness… that is the “secret” the mystery of all ages, which we get to reveal to others….
For knowing we are one with Christ, part of each other, His holy people, His body, realizing that means we live in a peace that goes beyond all understanding, as Christ protects and guards His body… in peace.