Skip to content
Mar 26 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

March 25, 2012 – Present Your Bodies

But let a man examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. 1 Corinthians 11:28-29

INTRO: Today we’re going to read through three passages

Each passage brings us to a new understanding of the relationship between our bodies and Jesus
– as we read, pay attention to what Paul says is the wrong thing to do, think, or say, and the right things

1 Corinthians 11:23-32 – instructions regarding the Lord’s Supper

What does he say is wrong (or wrong way to approach the Lord’s Supper)?
– “unworthy” – specifically, 29, “not discerning the body”

What does he say is right (or right way to approach it)?
– we must examine ourselves and with that inward focus eat and drink

The Lord’s Supper is where we symbolically begin with Jesus
– whatever happens when we meet him and receive him, it is celebrated in the Lord’s Supper
– we return to this place of our beginning repeatedly

Jesus has given us his body – not as an object separate from him
– his blood is his very life, his body is Christ himself
– he gives his body to us and we are to ingest it
• in doing so, we give him permission to enter us and transform us
– that’s why the Lord’s Supper could never entail gluttony
• it is not a grasping at eternal life
• it is the surrender of our lives –  a surrender to the Lord whom we receive
• Karl Rahner talks about “dying into the new life of God.”

Jesus Christ is in us and at the same time, we are in him
One theologian said, “We are in Christ, not as a pebble in a box, but as a branch in a tree.”
– we are not two separate objects or organisms – nor is our relationship with Jesus a symbiosis
– we are one organism, sharing one life
• the relationship is not formal, but organic
• yet we are not absorbed into Jesus so that we lose our identity — he is still the vine and we are still the branches

John Robinson observed that Paul invented words to describe this relationship of us being in Jesus, “Time and time again . . ., he coins strange new words with the prefix sun- [with] rather than use the plain preposition. He clearly feels the painful inadequacy of language to convey the unique ‘withness’ that Christians have in Christ.”

In physical intimacy, a husband and wife become “one flesh” (body)
– Paul uses this to stress husband’s responsibility to care for wife
• but the example he uses is Jesus and his people – the church
– we have become one flesh (body) with Jesus (Ep. 5:28-32)

Our moment of physical intimacy with Jesus is the Lord’s Supper (1 Co. 10:16-17)
– as a result of observing this ritual, we are “joined” to Jesus

What do we do with this? (joined with Jesus)

  1. We look for Jesus within our bodies
    – his thoughts in our mind, his feelings in our heart, his work through our hands
  2. Joined with Jesus takes us to the next passage

1 Corinthians 12:12-27 -instructions regarding Christian diversity

What does Paul say is wrong? (three things)
1.) thinking you don’t belong with the other Christians in the group
2.) thinking you don’t need the other members of the group
3.) division in the group

What does Paul say is right? (two things)
1.) that the many members are one body (notice the recurrence of these words)
2.) God put it together the way he wants it

Jesus takes our bodies and places them in his body
– to Paul on his way to Damascus, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me” (Acts 9:4)
• did Paul even see Jesus in the flesh?
• Paul was persecuting Christians, but they formed a part of Jesus’ body
– this is a strange, mysterious truth: we are a part of Jesus’ resurrected body

The reason I don’t like to use the word “church” to describe us
– in our culture, church is a highly structured institution
• a corporation under someone’s management
– people are assigned roles according to the institution’s needs and not according to their inner vision, passion, or skills

I prefer, “spiritual community” – it makes more sense to us and our culture
– yet it isn’t completely accurate
– Paul isn’t describing an institution or community, but an organism
• it is Jesus’ body, doing what Jesus wills it to do
• the “body” is not a group of believers – we never read, “the body of Christians” but “body of Christ”
• the body belongs to a particular person – it is Jesus’ body

Paul doesn’t tell us to create unity – it’s already there
– he tells us not to amputate ourselves or any other member or create a rend in the body

I have something to say to those, who like me, have an Evangelical background:
– we have got to learn to accept diversity
• every evangelist has told us that we all have to be evangelists
• every missionary has told us that we all have to be missionaries
• it is as if we’re all supposed to spring from the same mold, all doing the same work, saying the same words
– give yourself permission to be what God makes you
• to be where he places you
– give others the same freedom – and stretch it as far as you can

You belong in the living organism of Jesus — with the rest of us
– but some of us have difficulty finding our place in the community
• it was no different in first century Corinth
– people cannot say:
• “I’m not that guy; I don’t have his skill. I don’t belong”
– nor –
• “I don’t need you; I’m self-sufficient”
– we don’t even know how we need each other, but every contact shapes us one degree for better or worse

That doesn’t mean it is easy to meld into the spiritual community — being incorporated into the body is only the beginning of the challenge
– some of us have not learned how to form relationships
• how to be part of a community – how to mingle at a party
– a psychologist once told me, “Well, Chuck, You have no intimacy skills”
(Immediately I found that observation to be offensive, infuriating, and absolutely true)
– merely being a member of Christ’s body does not fix these things
• but it does give us a place, a potential, and an opportunity to fix them
– we also have this going for us: Jesus is praying for us (Jn. 17:21-23)

And this brings us to our third passage

1 Corinthians 15:35-44 – an explanation regarding the resurrection of the body

What is wrong?
1.) Earlier, v. 12, some were saying “there is no resurrection”
2.) Questioning resurrection: “How?” & “What kind of body”

What is right?
We will be resurrected and God is in charge of the details
– v. 38, “as He wished” is same term in 12:18, “as He desired”

When Paul corrected their thinking, he used several analogies:

  • a contrast seen in agriculture
  • a contrast seen in zoology
  • a contrast between the terrestrial and celestial
  • a contrast seen in astronomy

We can know something about the process of the resurrection and the sort of results it produces
• we just don’t know the details

Jesus was resurrected and his body transformed, by power of God
– the same power flows into our bodies, binds them together, and binds them to him

Eventually, Jesus redeems our bodies
. . . we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body (Ro. 8:23)
– resurrects our bodies
– and transforms our bodies
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. (Php. 3:20-21)

When Paul addressed death with the Thessalonians, he concluded his remarks with, “Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thes. 4:18)
– I love this statement – Why? Because we die — and we lose each other to death, but we are not without hope

What we have learned from near death experiences (i.e., when people flatline during an illness or surgery or after an accident and then are brought back)
– they experience immediate freedom, not only from pain, but from all stress, whether in the mind, body, or soul — they feel absolutely no tension
– nothing is unresolved, nothing is distressing
– for the first time they see everything in the universe as perfect, exactly as it is

It is tragic–almost criminal–that Christians do not know how to find or give comfort in the face of death

CONC: We have looked at the Corinthians wrong thinking and right thinking

And we’ve seen that both wrong and right thinking are embodied!
– in our bodies and in the body of Christ

Wrong and right thinking determines whether we are nourishing our bodies or abusing them

Let’s be the real deal – let’s help each other with:

  • becoming aware of our moment of union with Jesus in the Lord’s Supper
  • fitting in and finding our place in the complex of human relations in the body of Christ
  • preparing our hearts, minds, spirit, and bodies for crossing the threshold of death
Leave a comment