Over the years I have told many stories/illustrations to help people focus on God, His Word, their life as children of God. This story is one of my favorite stories (from Jim Rice) to tell. (Try to imagine me telling this story while making sound effects!)
A man injured on the job filed an insurance claim. The insurance company requested more information, so the man wrote the insurance company the following letter of explanation:
I am writing in response to your request concerning clarification of the information I supplied in block #11 on the insurance form, which asked for the cause of the injury. I answered, “Trying to do the job alone.” I trust that the following explanation will be sufficient.
I am a bricklayer by trade. On the date of the injury, I was working alone, laying brick around the top of a three-story building. When I finished the job, I had about five hundred pounds of brick left over. Rather than carry the bricks down by hand, I decided to put them into a barrel and lower them by a pulley that was fastened to the top of the building.
I secured the end of the rope at ground level, went back up to the top of the building, loaded the bricks into the barrel, and pushed it over the side. I then went back down to the ground and untied the rope, holding it securely to insure the slow descent of the barrel. As you will note in block #6 of the insurance form, I weigh 145 pounds. At the shock of being jerked off the ground so swiftly by the five hundred pounds of bricks in the barrel, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope.
Between the second and third floors, I met the barrel. This accounts for the bruises and lacerations on my upper body. Fortunately, I retained enough presence of mind to maintain my tight hold on the rope and proceeded rapidly up the side of the building, not stopping until my right hand was jammed in the pulley. This accounts for my broken thumb (see block #4). Despite the pain, I continued to hold tightly to the rope. Unfortunately, at approximately the same time, the barrel hit the ground and the bottom fell out of the barrel. Devoid of the weight of the bricks, the barrel now weighed about fifty pounds. I again refer you to block #6, where my weight is listed. I began a rapid descent.
In the vicinity of the second floor, I met the barrel coming up. This explains the injury to my legs and lower body. Slowed only slightly, I continued my descent, landing on the pile of bricks. Fortunately, my back was only sprained. I am sorry to report, however, that at this point I again lost my presence of mind—and let go of the rope.
I trust that this answers your concern. Please note that I am finished trying to do the job alone.
God never intended for you to live your Christian life/ministry alone! Hopefully, you know that you are a sinner…and that sin separates you from a Holy God (not His Love for you). On your own, you can not fix the problem…but the good news (the Gospel) is that you don’t have to fix the problem…. Jesus did on the cross…for you!!!!! You are saved! and yet: Living a Christian life can be tough. It may seem that your Christian walk is as if you are “trying to do it alone” …especially when it seems that you are at odds with what the world, news, and media tell you about God, His Word, morals, values, etc. God knew that right from creation…even in the Garden of Eden (paradise), God saw that it was not good for Adam to be alone!
Genesis 2:18…. The LordGod said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
The Christian life is not easy to live “on your own.” You need people who stand beside you to support you, encourage you, and help you to succeed. That’s why God created the church. There are no Lone Rangers in the family of God. You never have to “do the ministry” alone! We really do need each other. We are a community, a family of faith…and when we all work together, we can accomplish great things for Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:27… Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
I encourage you to take the time to read 1 Corinthians 12. It reminds us that God has placed people with different gifts and abilities together to be His church. Read it and ask yourself, what is my role within the church? How can I help accomplish God’s plan for my congregation…for the larger church…for those who are outside of the church…my community…my daily circle of influence? Our current sermon series is called “Be The Church…It’s Not a Place, It’s Who We Are!” The tag line for this series reminds us that 2 billion people are Christians…they go to a church somewhere around the world. But isn’t church more than a building that we go to…or watch online services at? God’s Word says that church is “a way to be.” We “go” to church…but are called to “be” the church! By being part of Christ’s church on earth, we grow in our personal walk with the Lord…and are then empowered to love and serve others in the name of the Lord.
I encourage you to go to royred.org to watch last week’s sermon…and then to watch each of the next 4 weeks’ sermons.
I know that I have shared this section with you in other devotions…but it is what “being the church” looks like…. Acts 2:42-47…They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
As “the church” they did not have to “do it alone!” …even during persecution.
That same verse in the Message translation puts it this way:
That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers. Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met.
They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.
So…what is the point of this devotion?
That God’s church is not the building, it’s the people who trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior! It’s wherever the Gospel is preached, and the sacraments are administered according to the Gospel. The local congregations are where people gather around the means of grace. We extend God’s church by telling others about Jesus, through service, prayer, and financial support….and His kingdom grows.
We participate in the church to be fed spiritually, to support and encourage others, to be equipped to go outside the walls of the building to lead others to the quality-of-life Jesus offers.
Support and be active in your local congregation (church)….and then go out and “be the church’ wherever God sends you…24/7!
A bit of humor for your day:
Timmy didn’t want to put his money in the offering plate Sunday morning, so his mother decided to use some hurried creative reasoning with him. “You don’t want that money, honey,” she whispered in his ear. “Quick! Drop it in” the plate. It’s tainted!” Horrified, the little boy obeyed. After a few seconds, he whispered, “But, mommy, why was the money tainted? Was it dirty? “Oh, no dear,” she replied. “It’s not really dirty….It’s tainted… ‘taint yours, and it ‘taint mine,” she replied. “It’s God’s.”