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You Are Who You Are Meant to Be
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:18
Track 3 of 17 in the Living in the Light of His Coming series
Running time: 25 minutes, 20 seconds.

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Chuck Sackett Speaker: Chuck Sackett
Dr. G. Charles Sackett is minister of Madison Park Christian Church.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Sermon for Sunday, September 19, 2004
3rd sermon in a 17 part series
"You Are Who You Are Meant to Be"
"Being in Him Means Being His Church"
(1Corinthians 12:18 )
Copyright 2004 G. Charles Sackett

When God gave out brains, I thought he said trains and I missed mine. When God gave out looks, I thought he said books and I didn't want any. When God gave out noses, I thought he said roses and I asked for a red one. When God gave out chins, I thought he said gins and I asked for a double. When God gave out heads, I thought he said beds, and I asked for a soft one.

Not many of us are satisfied with who we are. We are not particularly pleased with the way we are made. If you don't believe me, just ask this billion dollar industry we call cosmetic surgery. I guess the most popular thing right now is Nicole Kidman's nose. You don't want that one. Okay!

I'm not particularly concerned about that on a physical level this morning, though that certainly plays into some of what I think happens even in a church. I am intrigued by this one verse, buried in 1 Corinthians 12 that I would love for us to spend a little time with. You know that we're spending some time this Fall in this chapter. We're gonna try to look at this chapter from a number of different angles.

Just look at 1 Corinthians 12:18 right here in the midst of this discussion about the parts of the body, none of them being superior and none of them being inferior. Paul says in 1Corinthians 12:18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.

Eugene Peterson in The Message, puts it this way. "As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it."

Well, if that's true physically, then it's also true spiritually. In 1 Corinthians 12 he's talking about the fact that we are a part of the body of Christ and each one of us, he says, are members of that body and his statement is, "we are who we are" or "we are what we are" because God has designed us that way and we are the ones we are meant to be.

When I think about that from a very personal level, when it becomes an issue of my own heart, it becomes a question of whether or not I trust God's judgement. Do I really believe that God has made me the way I should be. Am I confident that I can look in the mirror and accept the fact that this is what God has designed.

I find it fascinating, this new TV show that has been on for a year or so. I think it has to do with ultimate physical make-overs. Have you see that, where they have this grand unveiling after they may have done multiple different kinds of cosmetic surgery on people? I read this interesting article this week about a husband who is reflecting on the fact that he now wakes up to a woman that isn't the one that he married. I mean it is, but, it isn't! Because she has had this total make-over and he fell in love with this person who is now different. One of his comments was, "I used to see her mother in her smile. She's no longer there".

Now, I'm certainly not opposed to people correcting things that need to be corrected. I would certainly not stand in your way of changing anything about yourself that you felt like you wanted to change. But I certainly would encourage you to ask this question. Why in the world are you doing that? What is there about the way that God created you that you don't happen to like and why?

But it's not nearly so much that physical concern, though, in American culture that is certainly true. Five billion dollars in 2002 for cosmetic surgery. Two billion dollars for non-cosmetic things like Botox injections which I understand are good for three or four months. On top of an eight billion dollar cosmetic industry. Did you ever wonder what we could do with sixteen billion dollars? We place an enormous cost on appearance and performance. If you don't look right or you can't do certain things in our culture, you just don't count and that's unfortunate.

But this is not about what we look like physically. This is about what we look like spiritually. See, if I am who I am meant to be, then one of the things I wrestle with is that God has created me in a particular way so that I can bring something to the body of Christ and I can bring something to my brothers and sisters in the Lord that is unique to me, that only I can add to their life. And sometimes, quite frankly, I'm not satisfied with that.

I hope that you don't pay a lot of attention during worship to what goes on over here in this corner because if you did it could be a little disconcerting to you. I watch with some envy while the percussionists up here in various places actually play with rhythm. If somebody up here starts clapping and we're expected to join them, one of two things has to happen. I either have to clap and work really hard and stop singing or I can keep singing and not bother to clap but I cannot do both at the same time. It is a physical impossibility. I don't have it. If God had been asking, what gift do you want, one of the things I would have said is I'd like a little rhythm, thank you.

In fact, if I could have just chosen gifts, I think I would have chosen music as one of the things that God gave me. I love music. I love to hear people play and sing. In fact I used to insist that my children treat me like David had to treat Saul, you know. Play an instrument. They never would agree. But I love music.

What I've had to wrestle with is, that is not what I have to contribute. You'd be happy for me not to try. If you could have whatever gift you wanted, would it be the one that you have? The question is, "Am I willing to trust that what God has placed in me is what God wants in ME". Now, it's another way of saying I just want to accept who I am. It's not a way of saying I'm willing to live with mediocrity. It doesn't mean that I can excuse myself because I can't do something else, therefore I don't have to do anything or I don't have to do anything well. It only means that I am who I am and God has wired me up this way and there's not much I can do about it. I've tried.

In some way, thinking about the gifts that God places in the body is a matter of saying I'm content with who I am. But it also moves in another direction and that is that I am responsible for who I am. It's one thing to figure it out, to know. It's another thing to treat it with responsibility. When that comes to us physically, it's simply a matter of living faithfully before God.

But when it comes to us spiritually, it's a matter of wrestling with whom God has created me to be and then what do I do with it because part of my responsibility, and this is in some ways that interesting paradox in Scripture that on the one hand, we are whom God has made us. He has wired us this way. He has gifted us in the way he wants us. He places in the body just those that he wants there and yet, I have this discovery process going on in me and I have this responsibility to figure it out. It is my job to discover my gifts. It's another way of saying, it is never acceptable to be somebody whose primary contribution to a church is to sit in a pew. That's not how God wired you up. He wired you up to be a part of the body, a functioning part and discovering what that part is, is partly your responsibility. There are a variety of ways of doing that. One way is to simply ask yourself a lot of questions like; what do you like to do? What interests you? What turns you on? What do you do well? What kinds of thing, when you have tried to do them, worked out and succeeded? And when you try to do other things, what didn't work out so well?

One way of discovering is to just try some things. Just to say, well, I don't know if I have the gift of teaching, can you put me in a class and let me try it? I don't know if I have the gift of encouragement. Let me try smiling at somebody and see if they smile back. I don't know if I have the gift of music, let me. . . . .well, never mind that one. We can figure that out in the shower.

Sometimes, and I think this most often, the best way to figure out what you are is to listen to what other people say. The body of Christ has an incredibly powerful process whereby when people speak to us and say, you know I see in you this. . . . .we ought to listen. Now I don't know if just because one person says it that it's adequate. But, when somebody says it and somebody says it and somebody says it and they are different kinds of people under different circumstances, at that point you begin to sit up and say, maybe that is my gift and I should exercise it. Which by the way is what's supposed to happen.

God gave us who we are. He made us to be what we are in order for us to exercise those things in the context of the world in which he's placed us.

One of my very favorite characters in life is Eric Little. I don't know if you've paid much attention. He was the lead character, the story line in the movie Chariots of Fire that came out fifteen or twenty years ago. Eric Little is that fella who ran for Great Britain in the 1914 Olympics. He was actually a hundred meter dash specialist, one of the fastest men in the world. He, ah, was also a Christian and he was also a missionary. He found out that they were running the 100 yard dash on a Sunday and he said, I will not do that! And so he dropped out. He came back two or three days later and won the Gold Medal in the 400 meter dash.

His sister, in one of my favorite scenes in the movie, his sister is standing on a beautiful green British hillside talking to her brother Eric about his call to ministry and he announces to her that God has called him to go to China as a missionary and she is so excited about this decision that he's made to follow this calling of God and then he looks at her and he says, but first, I have to run. And he looks at her and he says, God made me fast and when I run I feel his pleasure. Do you hear what he's saying? He's discovered one of the things that God has put in him and to not exercise that is to deny the creation that God has made.

To discover that you have a gift and to not use it is to deny the very thing that God has made you to be. See, one of the things that we wrestle with is that one day God is going to ask us what, he's gonna ask from each of us, what did you do with what I gave you? You can count on that question coming. He'll want to know. I gave you ten talents. What did you do with them? I gave you five talents. What did you do with them? I gave you one talent. What did you do with it? And if you remember the parable, taking your one talent and burying it in the ground was not an acceptable alternative. Using it, that's acceptable.

I'm responsible for my gifts. But I need to go somewhere which we will come back to later in this series on 1 Corinthians 12, but just briefly I need to suggest to you, that knowing that you are gifted and exercising your gift does not relieve you from other responsibilities. Some things are just both Christian responsibilities and, a gift.

I am absolutely convinced down in the core of my being that my daughter is a gifted giver. She just has a heart of generosity. She would give you her last dime. I have seen her do it.

I don't know if I'm gifted at giving or not. It is not as easy for me to give as it is for her to give. I'm convinced that she's gifted at it. Does that mean I don't have to? NO, cause that's an obligation on every believer. To give back to God.

Now I'm absolutely convinced that I'm not an evangelist. That is not my gift. Do I then excuse myself and say, okay, because I'm not gifted at evangelism, I never have to say anything about Jesus to someone who's lost? NO! That's a responsibility incumbent on all of us. Go in to all the world and make disciples. That's something he said to us all. But some of you have a gift of evangelism.

There are gifts and there are responsibilities. All of us have certain things that we do simply because we're disciples of Jesus. And all of us have something unique that we do because we are spiritually gifted and we exercise them both.

Now, having said all of that, I find myself coming right back to a problem and that is, that this smacks a lot of American individualism. That this is all about me. In fact, when I read together with you Psalm 139, one of my favorite Psalms, I find myself hearing, again and again; I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Anywhere I go, God is. If I cross the sea he's already there. If I go to the deeps, he's already there. If I go to the sky, he's already. . . . . . but it's all about ME. And 1Corinthians 12 is only a little bit about me and a lot about us. You see, the text is, that WE are the body of Christ. Each one of us part of that body. WE are the body, not I am the body.

And there's something incredibly important about understanding that when we talk about being who we are made to be, it includes all of us, not just ONE of us.

One of the stories coming out of this summer's olympics that has fascinated me greatly is the story of Jenny Thompson. I don't know if you've followed the olympics much. She's a swimmer. Has competed in four consecutive olympics. She's an old, old person now because she's in her early 30's. That makes her old for competition internationally. She went into this olympics with the possibility of winning a 9th and possibly a 10th Gold Medal which would make her the all time leading American Gold Medal winner. She didn't actually accomplish that. She does have, however, more medals than any other swimmer in American history. Do you know the criticism of her? Every one of her medals (every one of her Gold Medals) is a team relay, not an individual. And so she gets criticized for not being the best swimmer in the world because everything she's ever done she did as a team and didn't do it by herself. Do you hear how faulty that is? But how cultural it is, that this is about me and not about us.

Do you realize how weak the church would be if the church were dependent on any one of us? The church is a team sport. We are the body. It's not about me. It's about us. It's a matter of the fact that we, as a congregation, are unique among all other congregations in the world because of the unique makeup that God has placed here. And just like it's incumbent on me as an individual Christian to discover my gifts, and to exercise my gifts, and to be held accountable for my gifts, it's incumbent upon us as a congregation to do exactly the same thing. To figure out who we are collectively and to identify what contribution we make to the body of Christ at large. And then to make that contribution., whatever that happens to be because one day God will also ask us this. I placed you (plural) in Quincy, Illinois. Did you do what I gifted you to do. You had a unique makeup of all these different kinds of body parts. Did you allow them to be used in such a way that I was honored by you?

One of the challenges that our leadership faces on a regular basis is trying to figure out who WE are and where should WE go and what should WE do to express the fact that we are the body of Jesus.

As we wrestle with 1Corinthians 12 this Fall and we look at this whole issue of being the body of Christ and being collectively part of one another, we are gonna be held accountable for US and US. We'll be held accountable for identifying our own unique gifts and asking whether or not we are making a contribution to this body by exercising the gifts that God has given us. And then we'll be asked to be held accountable to how this body has functioned and whether we collectively have been what God created us to be.

So there really is a call today, a unique call to us to be the body that we're supposed to be. There's also a call today to you. For you to decide who you are. To figure out what it is that God wants YOU to do, to listen to the body of Christ. To ask, what is it that God has placed in me and how shall I exercise that? And am I exercising that? The call today is for YOU to turn to your friend and to encourage them to exercise their gift and not be afraid to say, you know, I see in you a gift of encouragement or to say, I see in you the gift of teaching or to say, I see in you a gift, would you exercise it?

The call to us is to do the things that we all do. To not sit around and wait for somebody else. But to do what it is that I'm responsible to do, either as just a responsibility or as a gift. And of course, every time we come to this place there is an ultimate call that comes to us all. And that is the call to allow God to gift you in the first place. Because this isn't about just your natural abilities, what you came by as a God given genetic makeup. This has everything to do with what happens to you when the Holy Spirit invades your life and he uniquely invests himself in you. But his Spirit doesn't come until you ask for him. His Spirit comes when you make room for him in your life. His Spirit comes when you respond to the invitation to know Jesus personally and Jesus says, I will send my Spirit to you.

In fact, in Acts 2 it sounded a lot like this. When Peter got done preaching that very first gospel sermon. Their response was, What do we do? and his response was, Repent, be baptized and you'll receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The very process of becoming a Christian is the process of allowing God to make you unique in your makeup and unique in your contribution to the body of Christ.

If you don't know what it means to be a Christian, to allow God to work in you, that's the question we'd like to answer for you.

We offer a song every week where you have an opportunity to come and if you want to come during that song, you're certainly welcome. We'll talk. You're free to come in between services, to grab one of us and ask those serious questions about what it means to know Jesus. You're free to come if there's a burden in your life, do you simply want to have someone to pray for. We'll match you up with someone and send you to pray. It may be that what you need to ask about today is how you can make a contribution, in which case, we would love to talk with you about how you can be a part of this body. But undoubtedly what we really need for you is the very simple response to know Jesus, to walk with him by faith.

Would you stand with me while we sing?