Study Guide: God’s Big Toes

Sunday September 9, 2012 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

The Church of Christ functions like a body. When one part of the body doesn’t work, it affects the rest of the body. In this sermon, Greg calls the Church to respond to God’s call for us to serve one another.

Extended Summary:

By God’s own design, we are, together, the body of Christ. What happens with us happens with Christ, just as what happens to your body happens to you. This is why it causes problems when parts of the body don’t join the rest of the body as they should. In 1 Corinthians 12, we read that “If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?”

We tend to evaluate some roles in the church as less important and less necessary. The preacher gets more honor than the Sunday school volunteer or youth worker. Yet, this thinking is not how God sees our service. God gives special honor to the things that humans give the least amount of honor. God places special value on the unknown person who sets up chairs, paints walls, cleans toilets and changes diapers. This unknown person is the most honored in God’s Kingdom. They have special value.

God is a communal and relational God. The Father, Son and the Spirit exist in perfect community, and these communal fingerprints are all over creation. The more that scientists learn about the universe; the more that we see how interdependent everything is. If one cog in the universe gets out of alignment, it has consequences that we can’t see. Every molecule has a certain role and if they don’t perform that role, it messes up the universe. This interdependence reflects the Trinity in such beautiful ways.

The Church that Jesus died to bring into existence reflects this interdependence and is the main vehicle that God carries out his will in this world. As we saw in 1 Corinthians, every body part affects every other body part. An eye has to function as an eye and the ear has to function as an ear in order for the body to work. And the parts that seem the least important are the parts that are the most important. Anyone who is missing knee cartilage knows this to be true.

Greg used to run ultra marathons. One of his best races was in 1991, where he ran 61 miles. Greg was doing really well and was conditioned to perform in the adverse conditions that existed on the day this marathon was run. Around the 30 mile mark, however, his left toe began to hurt. He began running with a limp, and pretty soon, his right leg began to hurt. He began to slow and people, that seemed much more tired and that he had passed previously, began to pass him. It was extremely frustrating for Greg. The fact that his toe had such influence over his other healthy leg and his running time was frustrating.

At the 50 mile mark, however, the pain suddenly vanished. Yet, Greg began to hear the sound of squishing when he stepped. He looked down and saw that his shoe had turned red. His toe had burst open and began bleeding all over—but it stopped hurting, and it was wonderful. When the toe started to function again, his leg stopped hurting, and he was able to quicken his pace to finish.

Our Church body works in the exact same way. For this body to do what God called it to do, we need everyone who belongs to the body to act as they are called. If we don’t have enough Sunday school volunteers, then some parents will miss learning and their call to be a leader at the Refuge. Most of American Christianity exists as a consumer religion. People show up and receive what they want from the church. However, the Church is the people that attend, and it calls it’s attendees to serve in the capacity that God made them for. The Church is you and you are the Church.

Getting involved is just the first step in a journey with being a part of God’s church. As you grow in your service, you will find new and exciting ways that God has equipped you to be a part of the church and a part of the body of Christ. You are a part of the Church, and God wants you to join in and function how he has called you.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What additional questions and comments did you have about the sermon and supporting texts?
  2. In what ways has God gifted you to serve the local church?
  3. What things in your past specifically equip you to serve? Were you healed from past wounds so that you could help others heal from a similar wound?
  4. What area is on your heart to serve?
  5. How can you remind yourself six months from now about this calling? What might be some creative ways that you can keep up your motivation to serve?