The Caring Crisis
Open in your Bibles to Ephesians 4:14-16
A. There is a scene in City Lights in which Charlie Chaplin plays the role of a tramp. He s walking dejectedly along the street. He s just tried to help a blind girl, but he s been insulted.
Because he took the time to do that, he was late for work & lost his job.
So now he s walking down the block, pretty low.
He runs into a wealthy man who s just returned from a business trip to Europe. The man greets Charlie just like they re old buddies,and takes him over to his house. The man who had just come back from Europe is in a drunken stupor, and during the evening he hands Charlie a large handful of money with which to solve his problems.
Yet, the next morning when the rich man is now sober, he accuses Charlie of robbery, and has the tramp tossed into jail.
B. We can imagine how Charlie must have felt.
1. There have been those times in our lives when we ve needed a good friend . . . thought we had one, only to see the whole thing
2. We know what it s like to be let down; to be betrayed; to be treated apathetically; to be treated with unfaithfulness.
3. Of wanting to trust someone; of needing to depend upon another;
of crying out for help, and nobody being there.
C. Sometimes that happens to us at home; sometimes at work.
A man recently went into his firm one Friday morning.
He was called into his employer s office & told that effective 5:00 pm that day he was terminated. Someone else had bought over the firm.
He had 3 friends in the firm & he immediately went to them and told them what had happened.
Two came back with a better you than me response.
The 3rd friend said that if he was really fired - he would quit in protest.
He never did.
The man who received the bad news didn t want the others to resign.
He didn t want them to write letters or protest. He just wanted support.
Instead, they retreated away from him, leaving him broken & bruised.
A. David was hiding in a cave when he wrote Psalm 142.
Verse 4 reads:
Look on my right hand and see,
For there is no one who acknowledges me;
Refuge has failed me; No one cares for my soul.
1. I think David captures the feelings of Charlie s tramp; or the fired man; and, often the feelings, I think, of some of us.
2. One of the great religious thinkers of the earlier part of this century, Karl Barth, was once asked:
Why do you think people go to church?
He responded: People attend asking the question, Is it true?
He meant by that . . . Is the church really the kind of family institution that it claims to be? Is it really a place where people can find support?
B. That raises a number of issues: Do tramps & fired workers find
caring in God s family? Do members of the church find the support system they need?
1. Those questions, I think, raise a number of other isues:
How can we as Christians supply that comfort? Why do we even think that we can be a place where we can have relationships that will hold us up when times are hard? We re busy. Absorbed in our own
responsibilities. How can we be expected to be there when someone else needs help? How can we expect someone else to be there
when we need help?
2. It seems that the church is always in a crisis of caring.
3. Always because problems never stop; life goes on.
4. How do we deal with this crisis of caring?
Ephesians 4:14-16 gives some answers:
In verse 14, Paul tells us how sometimes we become cold toward Christ.
When we came to know Him, we were excited about Him;
but that often cools in our lives.
5. And as we turn from Him, we often become open to a perilous wind; a deceitful draft; that often puts out that light in our lives and we get carried off into the darkness.
6. It breaks our anchor & we drift out to sea.
7. And there s probably no more likely time for this drifting to occur than when we have a problem, and need a friend.
When we come up against those difficulties in life & can t find
a Christian to help us, we are vulnerable.
A. That s the difficulty that he paints in verse 14.
Now, in verses 15, 16 he gives the solution.
The thing to do to keep people faithful, to keep us growing is seen:
But speaking the truth in love, we may grow up in all things into Him who is the head - Christ - from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love.
Dealing with the caring crisis means . . .
I. WE STAY CONNECTED TO JESUS CHRIST
A. We can imagine Paul pulling out the medical charts - a diagram of the human body - which shows all the limbs and all the parts of the body and how they are tied together into one solid unit.
1. The human body is a marvel with well over 200 bones, 600 muscles, and, 250 million tiny cells in every drop of blood.
2. Each member of your physical body is important.
Big toe cut off? Learn to walk all over again.
One of the smallest muscles in your body keeps your eyelids open.
If not for these tiny muscles, you would have to prop open your eyelids with toothpicks.
3. Cohesion exists because every part works like it s supposed to work.
And, they all work together because that nervous system is connected to the head, where the decisions are made.
The body doesn t work unless it s connected to the head.
The spiritual body (which is what? The church . . . Eph. 1:22,23 )
is connected to it s Head (who is the Head of the church? Jesus . . .
Eph. 4:15; Col. 1:18)
*The fellowship of the family of God doesn t work unless you know the Father.
*If you re not connected to the Head, there s little chance you will long endure in serving others.
*If you don t daily receive a taste of His love, the relationships you have will likely turn sour.
*It s out of talking to God, that you speak to others.
*It s out of your openness with God, that you become vulnerable to others.
*It s only after you confess to the Father, that you can confess to others.
*It s only after you honor the King, that you can honor
brothers & sisters in Christ.
*It s only after you have devoted yourself to Christ,
that you can devote yourself to one another.
A. The kind of interdependence that s described in this image of the church as a body; the kind of closeness the arm has with the hand; the kind of dependency the leg has on the foot . . .
can only come among people who know the Christ.
1. People who believe they can worship God and ignore the saints are mistaken; those who think they can enjoy the saints while ignoring the Father have been deceived.
2. Christ & His church fit together like feet & toes; like teeth & jaw; they are knit together.
B. God is like an orchestra leader we re the different instruments each playing; and, apart from Him we re just isolated noises.
1. But together we make a melody . . . because we follow the conductor.
2. So the power we get from Jesus, the wisdom we receive through prayer & Bible study, enables us to deal with this crisis of caring
(So pray through Jesus to the Father, meditate upon the Scriptures)
3. Jesus cared for others (His disciples; those in the world; etc., through His connectedness to the Father).
C. As a result of staying connected to the Head, Jesus . . .
D. WE WORK TOGETHER
A. Ephesians 4:16 says that when every joint works together, then we have bodily growth; then we re built up in love.
In verse 15 we are told to speak the truth in love.
B. In 1st Corinthians 12, Paul points out that the human body is made up of various parts and that each part has an important task to do
(READ 1st CORINTHIANS 12:14-19).
1. Can t you imagine Paul addressing the parts of the human body?
Now listen Mr. Foot . . . Don t be disappointed because you are not
Mr. Hand. Mr. Ear,
don t think you have nothing to do because
you are not Mr. Eye.
2. Imagine if the whole body were an eye. We would have great vision, but what could we do about it? If each part of the body did the same thing, how much work would be done?
3. Dealing with this crisis of caring means carrying out my responsibilities.
Understanding that everyone has a place in the body of Christ.
Remember, God made you what you are! (God does not make junk)
For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made . . .
A. As the spiritual body of Christ, we are His eyes to see the needs of the world; we are His ears to listen to His Word (Bible); we are His mouth to speak His Word to the world & sing His praises; we are
His shoulders to carry burdens and responsibilities; we are His feet to run and share His love to others; we are to be His hands
of service & ministry in the world.
1. It s easy to let our relationships become business contacts.
2. Being a part of the body means we move beyond the superficial.
3. It must be real community. It must be a people who care. A place where people whose lives are shattered by divorce, illness, death,
can find support, understanding.
4. Redwood trees survive for centuries because their roots interlock with one another in the forest.
Dealing with the caring crisis means our roots interlock.
5. In his play After the Fall, Arthur Miller has a scene in which the main character Quinton is talking with his wife, Louise. And he has just received a phone call that his best friend, Lou, was run over by the subway, killed. They begin to talk together about whether he was pushed, or, he jumped. And Quinton recalled the last time he had talked to Lou. Lou had told him, You re the only friend I have. In the play, Quinton begins to cry. And he says, It was dreadful. Because I wasn t his friend either. And he knew it. He saw through my
faithfulness. And he was not telling me what a good friend I was, but he was praying about the kind of friend he wanted me to be.
5. Our world is filled with people who fail others.
We must be a different kind of people.
B. Involvement with God, His mission, His people, is not a spiritual luxury we enjoy if we have time, if we feel like it.
1. It s something that doesn t come naturally, but by the power of God, we are formed joint by joint; tendon by tendon; bone by bone.
2. We will fail each other to be sure, but let it never be said that we failed because we didn t try; let it never be said that we failed
because we ignored the power of God.
3. As the people in Russellville see our connectedness to Jesus; carrying out our God-given talents, responsibilities; tossing out the
selfishness of the world to serve . . . they will say,
God must be among those people because people don t normally act & live that way together.
A. Let God work through you. Let God make you a partner with
someone. Let Him lead someone to your ear, heart.
1. Commit yourself to focus one conversation each day on the spiritual.
Share with someone your Bible study. Talk about your prayer life. Call somebody & encourage them.
II. WE COOPERATE TOGETHER (READ 1st COR. 12:20-25a)
2. Again hear Paul talking to the human body:
Mr. Eye, you can t say to Mr. Hand, I do not need you.
Who will get the speck out of you? Mr. Ear, you can t tell Mr. Foot you don t need him. Who will take you where you need to go?
B. What marvelous things we accomplish for the cause of Christ
as we work together!
Examples: Mission efforts; Benevolence; Bible classes; Visitation; Prison Ministry; Lads to Leaders; Youth Ministry; Christian Soldiers; etc
Together, We Are Whole
Alone, I am partial. It is all I am but still not whole.
Alone, you are partial. It is all you are but still not whole.
Together, we are partial.
It is all we are but closer to whole. I know things you do not.
Your knowledge fills some of my voids.
You fill areas in which I am empty. But . . .
Together we are closer to being whole. Yes . . .
Together there is more. But not enough.
Together, we are: Branches in need of a vine. A body in need of a head.
In Him . . . Together . . . We are whole.
Eric Moussambani of Equatorial Guinea was an unlikely hero of the Sydney
Olympic Games. The 22 yr. Old African had only learned to swim last
January. He had only practiced in a 20 meter pool without lane markers,
and had never raced more than 50 meters.
By special invitation of the International Olympic Committee, under a special
program that permits poorer countries to participate even though their
athletes don t meet customary standards,
he had been entered in the 100 meter men s freestyle.
When the other two swimmers in his heat were disqualified because of false starts, Moussambani was forced to swim alone. He never put his head under the water s surface and flailed wildly to stay afloat. With 10 meters left to the wall, he virtually came to a stop.
Some spectators thought he might drown! Even though his time was over a minute slower than what qualified for the next level of competition,
the capacity crowd at the Olympic Aquatic Center stood to their feet
and cheered the swimmer on.
After what seemed like an eternity, Eric reached the wall and hung on for dear life. When he caught his breath & regained his composure,
the French-speaking Moussambani said through an interpreter,
I want to send hugs & kisses to the crowd. It was their cheering that kept me
III. WE SYMPATHIZE TOGETHER (READ 1st COR. 12:25b-26)
A. Again, imagine Paul addressing the members of the physical body:
O.K., when Mr. Toe is stumped, Mr. Back bend over. Mr. Eye survey the damage. Mr. Arm, extend Mr. Hand. Mr. Hand, doctor Mr. Toe.
1. Life is like journeying through a dark cave . . . We follow the light of our leader (Jesus Christ) . .If one stumbles . .If someone wanders off
2. On our journey, if one suffers physically, we all suffer with them
(1st John 3:17)
But if anyone has the world s goods and sees his brother in need,
yet closes his heart against him, how does God s love abide in him?
3. If one struggles spiritually, we all suffer with them:
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual
should restore him gently . . . (Galatians 6:1).
B. When the body is working together, when we re covering all the joints with love & care, great things will happen:
The power of our Head, Jesus Christ, will flow through our limbs,
and there will be bodily growth. People will be built up in love.
1. As His body, may we lift the cross so high that it says to each one here this morning; to each one in Russellville that there is . . .
A LIGHT that never goes out,
A HEART that never grows cold,
A MESSAGE that never grows old.
2. Andras Tamas is the name officials gave a certain man decades ago in a Russian psychiatric hospital. He d been drafted into the army,
but the authorities had mistaken his native Hungarian language
for the gibberish of a lunatic and had him committed.
Then they forgot about him. For 53 years.
A few years ago a psychiatrist at the hospital began to realize what had
happened and helped Tamas recover the memories of who he was and where he came from. He recently returned home to Budapest as a war hero,
the last prisoner of WWII.
Not only had this man forgotten his real name, he hadn t even seen his own face in 5 decades. So, according to one news account,
For hours, the old man studies the face in a mirror. The deep-set eyes. The gray stubble on the chin. It is his face, but it is a startling
revelation. Imagine looking at your own face in a mirror and not
recognizing it. James 1:22-25 says that is just what people are doing when they listen to God s Word but don t obey it. Right before their eyes in
Scripture, is an accurate reflection of themselves. But they don t truly see, with the eyes of their hearts, what the Bible shows them.
Question this morning is:
What is my relationship with Jesus & His church?
I. 3 answers . . . but only one will apply to you.
A. Active Member: connected to Him; carrying out my God-given
talents; walking with Him daily. Great! Keep it up!
B. Dead Member: stopped communicating (for whatever reasons) with God; wandered away from Him; just going through the motions;
Yet, just as a broken arm can be fixed, so can a broken life.
1. How does one become a part of the Body of Christ?
Believe that Jesus is the Christ
Repent of your sins (make a U-turn in life & follow Him)
Confess Jesus as God s Son
Immersed in Baptism (bringing about a new beginning)
2. Then live each day by faith in the One who will lead you to Heaven.
3. If you re looking for Someone who genuinely cares for you . . .
Jesus is the One.
If you re searching for a place to call Home; a place to share life s joys & sorrows, a place to grow spiritually, then the church, the body of Christ, is the place to be.
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