People can accomplish anything when they realize they are a part of something bigger. A team of people who share that conviction can change the world. Nick Fury, Marvel Comics.
When I was a kid, I loved comic books. But it wasn’t enough to look at the great art work. I had to understand the action. Yeah, right, I had to learn to read. So comics were a plus. They put me on the reading fast track.
My favorite was Captain Marvel. In real life he was a crippled shoe shine boy named Billy. When he said SHAZAM, a bolt of lightning and POW, he was transformed into a superman in red tights and cape. How inspiring for a powerless kid, small for my age. So cool!
But then something happened to make comics more exciting. They invented teams of superheroes. The Marvel family may have been first, followed by the Superman’s Legion, S.H.I.E.L.D. and the X Men. But get in line, X-Men. A team of pilots called Blackhawk comics preceded them all . None of them were superheroes, but each added his own talent to the team and together they made pretty exciting heroic action.
But who invented the idea of teams? I might vote for the apostle Paul, since he used the human body to explain how the church of Jesus is meant to work like a team. “…bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. (1 Cor. 12: 18-20 NLT). But Paul didn’t invent the idea. Jesus did. Remember, he decided not to be a lone star, but teamed up with the twelve. He also taught teamwork. Remember that passage about how great power is generated by two or three in agreement? It’s even better if you know the Greek word for “agree” is symphonie. Look familiar?—right, it means to be in harmony. Jesus didn’t go solo and doesn’t want us to either..
That leads me to wonder, if Paul was a 21st century Christian, what metaphor might he use to help us understand how the church is meant to operate? I could have chosen an orchestra, but settled on a football team.
14 Now a football team needs many positions, not just one. 15 If the center were to say, “Because I am not a fullback, I don’t belong to the team,” that would not keep him from being a team member. 16 And if the defensive end were to say, “Because I am not a safety, I don’t belong to the team,” that wouldn’t hold water. 17 If the whole team were a quarterback, who would protect him from the blitz? And if all the players were running backs, who would open up the holes for him? 18 As it is, however, the coach needs all kinds of different talents if he expects to win the game. 19 In fact, there could be no game at all if everyone played the same position…. 26 If one player fumbles, the whole team suffers and it could cost the game. If one player scores a touchdown, however, the other players meet him in the end zone, pat him on the helmet and they celebrate together.” (OPV, Our Paraphrased Version)
But does the church typically operate on Paul’s model? How foolish of the coach if he went onto the field to play while the team cheered from the sidelines! Yet, every Sunday that’s pretty much how we do church. The professionals do the important stuff, while we cheer them from our pews. Selah