Series: Followers of Jesus
Message: In the Church
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Mark Witas
Live Wonder: Jessyka Albert
Live Adventure: Jessyka Albert
Live Purpose: Kyle Smith
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Romans 12:1-21 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Paul writes, “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Romans 12:4-5).
I used to work for an Adventist academy that is located 300 miles north (as the crow flies) of Vancouver, British Columbia. Because the academy really didn’t have a gymnasium, our physical education program was tied to hiking, mountaineering, camping, and outdoorsmanship.
One day, as we were caravaning back from a trailhead after hiking and camping for a week, we discovered that the road was blocked with a Volkswagen Bug-sized boulder. There was no going around it because to the right of the boulder was a sheer hill of rocks from a previous slide and to the left was a cliff that descended several hundred feet down to a raging river. We were stuck and didn’t have any dynamite.
All the young men in our group got out of the vans, put their shoulders into the boulder and started to push. It didn’t budge. The girls got out and added their strength. Nothing. Then the faculty and staff got out. Everybody was talking over each other until one kid, a skinny little science nerd of a kid, spoke up: “Why don’t we use a lever and a fulcrum?”
There was an old telegraph pole on the side of the hill. The science teacher said, “Hey, good idea!” They set it up and started to pry. The boulder moved. Just a little, but it moved.
A young lady said, “How about the jacks we have in the vans?” We got them out and started using them. Everybody worked together to move that rock.
Finally, after hours of everybody doing everything they could to move the rock, we all stood next to it knowing that the next move would send it flying down the cliff into the water below.
We all cheered as it tumbled down the hill, hit a large piece of granite and splashed into the water below.
Everybody mattered. Some people were ideas people. Some were muscle. Some were helpers. Others were leaders. It took all of us to get the rock off the road.
When the church is at its best, everyone matters. Everyone participates. Everyone counts. We are all a part of the body.
Recalibrate: Have you ever found yourself feeling like you don’t matter? What made you feel that way? How could circumstances have been changed so that you did matter?
Respond: Take some time today to thank God for making you just the way He did.
Research: Read 1 Corinthians 12.
Remember: “Love must be real. Hate what is evil; stick fast to what is good” (Romans 12:9, KNT).
Mark Witas is the lead pastor at Pacific Union College Church in Angwin, CA. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Mark has served as a youth pastor, Bible teacher, college and academy chaplain, and lead pastor in the United States and Canada for the last 33 years. He has also authored four books: Born Chosen, Live Out Loud, Portals, and Just Jesus.
Go over the different parts of the body with your child. Make it a game. Have them point to their eyes, your eyes, a stuffed animal’s eyes. Then ask them where their ears are. Mouth? Nose? Fingers? Toes? Belly button? Elbows? Tell them that our bodies have a lot of parts that all work together to help us move, dance, and live happy lives. When we are followers of Jesus, we all work together just like the parts of a body. Some of us are like hands that can hold onto others and that can make cool crafts. Some of us are like feet that walk us to the places we need to go. Some of us are like mouths that speak of good things. Some of us are like eyebrows that can wiggle and make people laugh. Ask them what part of the body they would most like to be and why.
Have you ever had to work or play on a team before? Did one person do everything? No? When we are part of a team, we each have different things that we do to make the team the best it can be. If you were playing baseball, would you be able to pitch the ball and play on third base? No way! Paul tells us that we are all a part of Jesus’ team. This means that we all have a different part to play. Just like our bodies have lots of different parts, Jesus’ team has lots of different players. Play a game today that involves being on a team. Remember that just like that game, we play on a team when we follow Jesus. We want to cheer each other on and help each other out!
When I was in high school, my very first job was working maintenance with a little old man named Shorty. He is still working at the school today, and I swear he has to be at least 100! One day, Shorty had me trim a long hedge of bushes. As I began trimming these bushes, I noticed something that was really fascinating. The bushes were really strong, but they were made up of hundreds of small, weak, and tiny branches. Alone, each branch could be snapped with no effort at all. But when all of these branches were together they were able to weather any storm or strong wind that nature could throw their way! This taught me a valuable lesson about people and church. Alone, each of us is weak and easily defeated, but together we are strong! Do you feel that your local church is a place where everyone counts and is needed for the whole body to be strong? If not, what are some ways that you can change your church? Always remember that God has given you specific gifts, talents, and skills, and that He needs you.