Pastor's Weekly Newsletter

Each Friday, Dr. Daniel Hagmaier posts his weekly newsletter. Catch up on what's happening and plan ahead.

I Corinthians 12: 12-31 | Where you from? What do you do?

WHERE YOU FROM? WHAT DO YOU DO?

I CORINTHIANS 12:12-31

JANUARY 24, 2016

 

I THINK I’VE SHARED WITH YOU BEFORE THE TWO MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS IN THE KEYS:

 

“WHERE YOU FROM? WHAT DO YOU DO?”

 

THESE QUESTIONS MAY BE AT THE TOP OF THE LIST ELSEWHERE, AS WELL, BUT I NEVER REMEMBER BEING ASKED THEM SO OFTEN AND SO MANY TIMES UNTIL I MOVED HERE.

 

IT COULD BE THAT BECAUSE WE LIVE IN A TOURIST AREA, WHERE FEW OF US ARE ACTUALLY FROM HERE ORIGINALLY, AND BECAUSE THERE IS SUCH A TRANSIENT POPULATION THAT THESE ARE THE MOST OFT ASKED QUESTIONS.

 

FOR ME THESE QUESTIONS ALWAYS PRESENT SOMETHING OF A PROBLEM.

 

THE FIRST ONE, “WHERE YOU FROM?” IS EASY ENOUGH – SORT OF – “I LIVE HERE,” I’LL SAY.

 

BUT THEN, WHEN PRESSED FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT I WAS BORN HERE, OR HOW LONG I’VE LIVED HERE, ETC. I HAVE TO EXPLAIN THAT I MOVED HERE FROM CHATTANOOGA, TN SEVEN YEARS AGO;

 

BUT ACTUALLY GREW UP IN CENTRAL FLORIDA, IN WINTER PARK, THOUGH I WAS BORN IN LAKEWOOD, OHIO, BUT MY PARENTS MOVED US TO FLORIDA WHEN I WAS ONLY NINE MONTHS OLD TO ESCAPE THE COLD AND THE SNOW; SO I’M SORT OF A NATIVE FLORIDIAN.

 

BY THIS TIME THE PERSON HAS USUALLY STOPPED LISTENING, IF THEY HAVEN’T WALKED AWAY ALTOGETHER.

 

THE SECOND QUESTION IS A LITTLE TRICKIER, BECAUSE I HAVE TO DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT I WANT THE CONVERSATION, IF NOT THE ENTIRE NIGHT, TO EITHER COME TO AN ABRUPT END, OR DRASTICALLY CHANGE BOTH COURSE AND DIRECTION.

 

YOU SEE – WHEN YOU TELL SOMEONE YOU ARE A MINISTER – EVERYTHING CHANGES.

 

FIRST, PEOPLE OFTEN BECOME STIFF AS A BOARD. WHEREAS A MOMENT AGO THEY HAD BEEN CASUAL, LOOSE, EASY GOING; THEY NOW STIFFEN, VISIBLY.

 

I’VE DECIDED THAT THIS IS BECAUSE THEY THINK IF THEY DON’T MOVE, I CAN’T SEE THEM, AND IF I CAN’T SEE THEM THEN I CAN’T PREACH TO THEM, OR ASK THEM TO COME TO CHURCH, OR CORRECT THEIR BEHAVIOR, OR ASK THEM FOR MONEY.

 

LET ME TELL YOU – I HAVE NO DESIRE TO DO ANY OF THOSE THINGS IN SOCIAL SITUATIONS OR WHEN AT A PARTY OR GATHERING.

 

THE SECOND THING THAT CHANGES, IF PEOPLE HANG AROUND LONG ENOUGH, IS THAT THE CONVERSATION COMPLETELY CHANGES. THEY STOP TELLING JOKES. THEY APOLOGIZE FOR ANY CURSE WORDS THAT MIGHT SLIP OUT.

 

“I’M SORRY REVEREND…” AS IF I’VE NEVER HEARD THOSE WORDS BEFORE AND CERTAINLY NEVER USED ANY OF THEM.

 

MAY I JUST SAY ON BEHALF OF MINISTERS EVERYWHERE, AT LEAST MOST IF NOT ALL OF THE MINISTERS I KNOW, WE’VE HEARD ‘EM ALL BEFORE, AND PROBABLY USED MOST OF THEM.

 

LIKE YOU – WE OCCASIONALLY SMASH OUR THUMB WITH A HAMMER! WE KNOW HOW FRUSTRATING DO-IT-YOURSELF PLUMBING JOBS CAN BE! WE HOOK AND SLICE OUR TEE SHOTS INTO THE WOODS, WITH THE BEST (OR WORST) OF THEM! AND WE TOO, THINK, IF WE YELL AND CURSE AT THE TELEVISION SET, OUR TEAM WILL PLAY BETTER!

 

ONCE I REVEAL I’M A MINISTER – THE JOKES STOP, PEOPLE APOLOGIZE FOR CURSING, THEY BEGIN TO EXPLAIN WHY THEY ARE NOT IN CHURCH AS OFTEN AS THEY’D LIKE TO BE, OR MAKE PROMISES TO DO BETTER, OR WANT TO TALK RELIGION THE REST OF THE NIGHT.

 

IT IS AN OCCUPATIONAL HAZARD; AND I KNOW WE ARE NOT ALONE IN THIS.

 

LAWYERS ARE ASKED FOR FREE LEGAL ADVICE; MECHANICS ARE ASKED: “WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHEN I TRY TO START MY CAR AND GOES WHIRRRRZZZ, CLICK, CLICK, CLICK;

 

DOCTORS ARE APPROACHED WITH MEDICAL QUESTIONS, “DOC, IT HURTS WHEN I DO THIS (LIFT ARM) WHAT SHOULD I DO?” “STOP DOING THAT.”

 

AND I’M SURE IT’S THE SAME NO MATTER WHAT YOU ANSWER TO THE QUESTION: WHAT DO YOU DO?

 

HONESTLY, AND THEN I’LL STOP ABOUT WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE A MINISTER, BUT SOMETIMES WHEN I GET THE QUESTION – WHAT DO YOU DO?

 

I TELL PEOPLE “I SELL LIFE INSURANCE” (POINT UPWARD) OR “FIRE INSURANCE” (POINT DOWNWARD).

 

WHERE YOU FROM? WHAT DO YOU DO? THESE TWO QUESTIONS IMMEDIATELY GIVE PEOPLE A HOOK ON WHICH TO CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION, THOUGH MOST OF US ONLY HAVE A VAGUE IDEA ABOUT WHAT PEOPLE DO OR WHERE THEY ARE FROM, AND PLENTY OF PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS ABOUT BOTH.

 

“WHERE YOU FROM?” “PHILLY.” “OH, THE PLACE WITH THE CHEESESTEAKS; THE LIBERTY BELL; CITY OF BROTHERLY LOVE.” “YEA,” SAYS THE PERSON.

 

“WHERE YOU FROM?” “CHICAGO.” “OH, I LOVE CHICAGO. THE WINDY CITY, DEEP DISH, THE SOUTHSIDE, ALL THAT GANGSTER HISTORY.” “UH-HUH.”

 

“WHERE YOU FROM?” “SAN FRANCISCO.” “I’VE NEVER BEEN THERE – PEOPLE TELL ME ITS COLD THERE, EVEN IN THE SUMMERTIME; YOU’RE THE ONES WITH THE CABLE CARS…? “YEA.” “AND SOURDOUGH…?” “THAT’S US.”

 

YOU SEE, MOST OF US ONLY HAVE A VAGUE NOTION OF THE PLACES PEOPLE ARE FROM, OR PRECONCEIVED IDEAS ABOUT WHAT THEY DO.

 

I WAS STANDING IN LINE THE OTHER DAY AND OVERHEARD THIS CONVERSATION:

 

“WALT, HOW YOU DOIN’?” “GREAT.” “HOW’S MICHIGAN?” “YOU MEAN WISCONSIN.” “WISCONSIN? I THOUGHT YOU WERE FROM MICHIGAN.” “NO, WISCONSIN.” “WELL, THERE THE SAME PLACE, AREN’T THEY?”

 

WHERE YOU FROM? WHAT DO YOU DO? THE POINT OF ALL OF THIS FOR US THIS MORNING, IS THAT A LARGE PART OF OUR IDENTITY; OF WHO WE ARE IS TIED UP IN THESE TWO QUESTIONS, AND HOW WE ANSWER THEM.

 

RECENTLY I WAS TALKING TO A RETIRED EXECUTIVE WITH A LARGE TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND COMPUTER COMPANY AND HE WAS TELLING ME ABOUT A TRAINING EVENT HE ATTENDED YEARS AGO.

 

IT WAS SUPPOSED TO TRAIN MANAGEMENT IN UNDERSTANDING THEIR EMPLOYEES; WHAT MAKES THEM TICK; AND HOW TO MAXIMIZE THEIR EFFORTS AND PRODUCTIVITY SO AS TO MAKE THEIR COMPANIES THE BEST THAT THEY COULD BE.

 

THE TRAINING WAS ENTITLED: WHO YOU ARE, IS WHERE YOU WERE, WHEN.

 

NOW, OBVIOUSLY, FROM MY BRIEF CONVERSATION WITH HIM, I DO NOT KNOW ALL THE INS AND OUTS OF THIS TRAINING; OR EVERYTHING IT WAS ABOUT;

 

BUT THE TITLE ALONE IS INTRIGUING: WHO YOU ARE, IS WHERE YOU WERE, WHEN – THE IDEA BEING THAT WE ARE SHAPED AND DEFINED, AT LEAST IN PART, BY WHEN, AND WHERE, AND HOW, WE WERE RAISED;

 

AND WHAT WAS GOING ON IN OUR LIVES, AND IN THE LIFE OF THE WORLD, AND IN OUR LITTLE CORNER OF IT, AND THE STATE, AND REGION, ETC. DURING OUR FORMATIVE YEARS.

 

I HAVE NOTHING MORE TO REALLY SAY ON THAT, EXCEPT THAT I HAVE APPLIED THE PRINCIPLE TO VARIOUS POINTS IN MY LIFE, AND I’VE FOUND IT TO BE TRUE – A PART OF WHO I AM, HAS TO DO WITH WHERE I WAS, WHEN.

 

TRY IT AND SEE IF IT’S NOT TRUE FOR YOU AS WELL.

 

NOW FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO WERE WONDERING IF I WAS EVER GOING TO GET TO THIS MORNING’S SCRIPTURE PASSAGE; WHAT WE READ A MOMENT AGO; I’M FINALLY THERE;

 

BUT EVERYTHING I’VE BEEN SAYING ABOUT OUR IDENTITY IS A LEAD IN TO WHAT THE APOSTLE PAUL SAYS HERE ABOUT OUR IDENTITY AS CHRISTIANS.

 

THE FIRST THING PAUL SAYS IS THAT CHRISTIANS ARE ALL MEMBERS OF ONE BODY; AND WHILE WE MAY BE DIFFERENT, EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US, WE ARE ALSO THE SAME IN CHRIST.

 

“JEWS AND GREEKS, SLAVES AND FREE – WE WERE ALL MADE TO DRINK OF ONE SPIRIT;” PAUL SAYS.

 

PAUL’S BODY ANALOGY FOR THE CHURCH, FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD, IS PERFECT. WE ARE ALL PART OF ONE BODY, EVEN IF WE ARE DIFFERENT PARTS OF THAT SAME BODY.

 

SOME OF US ARE FEET, SOME OF US ARE HANDS, SOME OF US ARE FROM PHILLY, SOME OF US ARE FROM ATLANTA; SOME ARE EARS, SOME ARE SOUTHERNERS, SOME ARE EYES, SOME ARE FROM THE MIDWEST; ONE IS A NOSE, ANOTHER IS A BELIEVER FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD.

 

NOW IN ADDITION TO WANTING US TO UNDERSTAND THAT THERE IS ONLY ONE BODY – AND THAT WE ARE DIFFERENT MEMBERS OF THE SAME BODY – THERE’S A LOT MORE GOING ON IN I CORINTHIANS 12 THAN MEETS THE EYE (IF YOU’LL PARDON THE PUN).

 

AFTER PAUL HAS ESTABLISHED THAT THERE IS BUT ONE BODY, WITH MANY PARTS, WHAT HAPPENS?

 

WELL, FIRST, CERTAIN PARTS OF THE BODY BEGIN TO WONDER WHETHER OR NOT THEY ARE GOOD ENOUGH TO BE A PART OF THE BODY.

 

“IF THE FOOT WOULD SAY, ‘BECAUSE I AM NOT A HAND, I DO NOT BELONG TO THE BODY,’ THAT WOULD NOT MAKE IT ANY LESS PART OF THE BODY.

 

AND IF THE EAR WOULD SAY, ‘BECAUSE I AM NOT AN EYE, I DO NOT BELONG TO THE BODY,’ THAT WOULD NOT MAKE IT ANY LESS PART OF THE BODY.”

 

HERE’S WHAT I BELIEVE PAUL IS SAYING – THERE ARE THOSE, SOME OF US, IN FACT, WHO DO NOT BELIEVE WE ARE GOOD ENOUGH; SMART ENOUGH; FAITHFUL ENOUGH; THAT WE PRAY ENOUGH; HAVE THE RIGHT BELIEFS; ALWAYS ACT AS WE SHOULD; ETC. WHO BEGIN TO SECOND GUESS OURSELVES AS TO WHETHER OR NOT WE ARE “WHATEVER ENOUGH…” TO BE PART OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD.

 

PAUL IS SAYING – YES, WE ARE. YES, WE DO. BELIEVING IN GOD, TRUSTING IN CHRIST IS ALL WE NEED. WE ARE ENOUGH!

 

SECONDLY, PAUL SAYS, WE DO NOT; DO NOT HAVE TO BE THE SAME, TO BE PART OF THE BODY OF CHRIST.

 

“IF THE WHOLE BODY WERE AN EYE, WHERE WOULD THE HEARING BE?   IF THE WHOLE BODY WERE HEARING, WHERE WOULD THE SENSE OF SMELL BE?”

 

WHAT PAUL IS SAYING, I BELIEVE, IS THAT WE DON’T HAVE TO ALL BE THE SAME TO BE A PART OF THE BODY. AND IF WE WERE, WE WOULD LOSE A BIG PART OF WHAT IT MEANS TO BE THE BODY OF CHRIST.

 

SO WE DON’T ALL HAVE TO BELIEVE THE SAME THINGS; ACT THE SAME WAY; DO THE SAME THINGS; BE THE SAME PERSON; TO BE A PART OF THE BODY OF CHRIST.

 

NOW HAVING SAID THIS, PAUL KNOWS WHAT COMES NEXT. CERTAIN PARTS OF THE BODY BEGIN TO TELL OTHER PARTS OF THE BODY THAT THEY DON’T NEED THEM.

 

“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.’”

 

MY GUESS IS YOU HAVE BEEN A PART OF A CONVERSATION WHERE SOMEONE HAS SAID THAT SO AND SO, OR THIS ONE OR THAT ONE, ISN’T A TRUE CHRISTIAN FOR THIS OR THAT REASON…

 

OR THAT YOU HAVE BEEN PART OF A CHURCH THAT HAS SPLIT, BECAUSE ONE SIDE HAS SAID TO THE OTHER SIDE, “WE HAVE NO NEED OF YOU.”

OR YOU ARE PART OF A DENOMINATION THAT HAS DIVIDED ITSELF OVER CERTAIN BELIEFS, SOCIAL ACTIONS, IDEAS AND PRONOUNCEMENTS, WHERE EACH SIDE HAS SAID TO THE OTHER, “WE HAVE NO NEED FOR YOU.”

 

BUT PAUL IS GENIUS HERE, AND CHRIST BEFORE HIM, IN UNDERSTANDING THAT WE DON’T ALL HAVE TO BE THE SAME; WE DON’T ALL HAVE TO BELIEVE THE SAME, THINK THE SAME, ACT THE SAME, DO THE SAME THINGS, TO BE PART OF THE BODY OF CHRIST.

 

IN FACT, WE DON’T EVEN HAVE TO BE TOGETHER TO STILL REMAIN PART OF THE BODY OF CHRIST.

 

THIS CHURCH OR DENOMINATION CAN BE A HAND; AND THIS CHURCH OR DENOMINATION CAN BE A FOOT; THIS CHURCH MEMBER CAN BE AN EAR; AND THAT MEMBER AN EYE; WE ARE STILL ALL PART OF ONE BODY, WITH CHRIST AS OUR HEAD.

 

ONE CHURCH OR BELIEVER MAY LIKE TO PASS OUT TRACTS AND SAVE SOULS; ANOTHER MAY LIKE WORKING IN THE SOUP KITCHEN OR FOOD PANTRY; STILL ANOTHER MAY FEEL A CALL TO A FAR AWAY MISSION FIELD; WHILE SOMEONE ELSE FEELS CALLED TO MINISTER WITH THOSE IN PRISON.

 

THIS IS WHAT PAUL SAYS WHEN HE SPEAKS OF SOME BEING APOSTLES, OTHERS PROPHETS, SOME TEACHERS, OTHERS WITH GIFTS OF POWER, HEALING, HELPING, LEADING, ETC. DIFFERENT GIFTS – THE SAME SPIRIT.

 

WE DON’T ALL HAVE TO BELIEVE THE SAME, AND WE DON’T ALL HAVE TO DO THE SAME, AND YET WE ARE ALL PART OF THE SAME BODY, WITH JESUS CHRIST AS THE HEAD.

 

JESUS TOO, UNDERSTOOD THIS, WHEN HE SPOKE OF FEEDING THE HUNGRY, GIVING DRINK TO THE THIRSTY, WELCOMING THE STRANGER, CLOTHING THE NAKED, HEALING THE SICK, VISITING THE LONELY AND THOSE IMPRISONED;

 

ONLY WHAT JESUS SAID WAS THAT AS WE DO IT UNTO THE LEAST OF THESE, WE DO IT UNTO HIM;

 

IN OTHER WORDS, WHERE JESUS SEES HIMSELF, SEES HIS BODY, IS WITH THOSE IN NEED, AS MUCH AS WITH THOSE MINISTERING TO THOSE NEEDS.

 

WHERE YOU FROM? WHAT DO YOU DO?

 

BY THE WAY, WHILE IT IS PERFECTLY OKAY TO HAVE RETIRED FROM WHEREVER YOU CAME FROM TO HERE, AND FROM WHATEVER YOU USE TO DO TO BEING RETIRED, THERE IS NO RETIRING FROM BEING PART OF THE BODY OF CHRIST.

NONE OF THE PARTS JUST FALL OFF!

 

AS LONG AS WE HAVE BREATH, AND EVEN AFTER THAT, EVEN WHEN WE ARE DEAD AND GONE, WE ARE STILL PART OF THE BODY OF CHRIST, AND THE KINGDOM OF GOD!

 

FINALLY, IN A CONVERSATION IN OUR ADULT SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASS, LINDA CUNNINGHAM SHARED WITH THE GROUP A MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUE REFERRED TO AS THE “WE AND I” PRINCIPLE.

 

AND WHILE I WILL NOT DO JUSTICE TO WHAT SHE SAID, OR TO THE FULL VALUE OF THIS TECHNIQUE, SHE BASICALLY SAID, IT’S FINE TO TALK ABOUT THE “WE” OF AN ORGANIZATION – THE “WE” OF THE CHURCH – THAT “WE” WILL DO THIS OR “WE” WILL DO THAT;

 

BUT AT THE END OF THE MEETING, AT THE END OF THE DISCUSSION, AT THE END OF THE DAY, IT COMES DOWN TO “I;”

 

WHAT WILL “I” DO? HOW WILL “I” MAKE THIS HAPPEN? WHAT MUST “I” DO TO ACCOMPLISH WHATEVER IT IS “WE” ARE GOING TO DO?

 

IT ALL GOES BACK TO THE APOSTLE PAUL’S BODY ANALOGY – ONE BODY – THE “WE;” WITH ITS MANY PARTS – THE “I”s.

 

AND REMEMBER, SOME OF THOSE “I”s ARE EARS, AND HANDS, AND FEET, AND NOSES…

 

MANY PARTS – ONE BODY.

 

WHERE YOU FROM? WHAT DO YOU DO?

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