Message of 12-30-07… Valued & Needed

January 9, 2008

Message notes from December 30, 2007…

As we end the year 2007 and prepare at the last moments before our New Year’s fast and prayer vigil, we take an opportunity to reaffirm two things about people at Church in Bethesda as individuals. First, that each person is highly valued, and that secondly, each person is very much needed.

We are each highly valued here at this place. In Luke 15 we find three stories which fill the chapter, three stories of lost things: a lost sheep, a lost coin and a lost child. In the each instance there is a determination to reconnect with the lost thing/person, and there is a clear valuing of the lost. We read the first of three stories together in worship, Luke 15:1-7

“Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!

So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!”

In the context of the chapter there are people angry with Jesus because he is concerned about the “wrong” people, he values too many and he values them indiscriminately. His response is a story about how the one is sometimes valued even in a moment above the many. Now, as we talk about membership here at CIB we’re not talking about “lostness” and being found, but we will take time to assert the value of each “one.”
Whether we’re looking at the story of one sheep, one coin or one child, we are affirming the basic fact that we value one another as individuals, inherently worthy and good. We are each worthy of pursuit and calling into the fellowship of family and community.

We underscore this idea because as we talk further in 2008 about community issues we know that there will be some individuals who have various differences with our normative practices and community affirmations. No one is ever going to be put to a litmus test of right thinking or right doctrine to enjoy our full fellowship and love.

Possibly of even greater importance is the second thought, that each person is needed. And I mean, NEEDED! 2008 is the year when all of our church family is needed to become active and participatory in congregational activities and campus stewardship.

It’s time for each of us to do some serious soul searching and reflection on our gifts and abilities that we bring to the whole… where will each of us be best equipped to serve the others?

For the theological base of this important idea we turned to Ephesians 4:1-16

“Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.

However, he has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ. That is why the Scriptures say, ‘When he ascended to the heights, he led a crowd of captives and gave gifts to his people.’

Notice that it says ‘he ascended.’ This clearly means that Christ also descended to our lowly world. And the same one who descended is the one who ascended higher than all the heavens, so that he might fill the entire universe with himself.

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”

Besides being one the “great” passages referred to in discussions of spiritual gifts it is also a wonderful text on the value of diversity and our coming together, each as a needed individual to the whole. Notice those closing words, “As each part does its work, it helps the other parts grow…” What a beautiful image of our growing together in mutual service and encouragement!

The year 2008 will probably come be known by many different things, but we will hopefully be holding tight to these truthes… that we are each valued and needed by and for the whole.

There are no disposable people in God’s creation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: