[You]nique 2 by John Burke


All of us have a unique calling in life, which effects everything — our career, our service, and the stewardship of all we’ve been given. And we all want to be noticed, valued for our uniqueness, to know that our unique gifts are making a real difference in the world. In our series at Gateway Church in Austin, we are focusing on these questions…

What would happen if we were truly motivated to make the most of the time we have? To seek out and get involved in the Greatest Endeavor on Earth? To use our uniqueness to contribute to something lasting and significant? Where others would notice and value our contribution? Where would we go?

To apply this week’s message to your life, work through the Next Steps for this message with your roommates, family, running partners, or life group.

John Burke shared at Gateway North (click to watch or listen to the message), and I shared at Gateway South.

Here are notes from the message we shared:

God created you uniquely. And it wasn’t an accident. Yet, ironically, most people struggle with three issues:   Who am I? Do I matter? and, What am I here to do? The first is the issue of identity – Who am I? [The second is the issue of importance – Do I matter? The third is the issue of impact – What is my place in this world?]

“You, God, made all the delicate inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother’s womb. You were there when I was being formed. You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe.” Psalm 139

God planned you before you were born. That’s what the Bible says. In fact, it says He even scheduled every day of your life before you began to breathe. You are not an accident. God had you in mind even before you were born. He created you in the image of God—what does that mean? It means God has a mind, you have a mind. God has a will, you have a free will. God has emotions, you can feel and love and care. God is a creator, and you can create. And what’s amazing, is that you were created unique because God created you for a unique relationship with your Maker—no one else can have what God created you to have with him—Isn’t that amazing to think about?

Yet we live in a world that turns it’s back on God—we all do—we all sin, we all go our own way thinking we know best. And that’s why we all struggle with Identity. Evil preys upon our wounds inflicted from others turning from God, lying to us, saying “You aren’t special to God—in fact, you’re a mistake.” Or evil preys upon our pride saying, “You’re better than everyone else—they’re not valuable like you are.” Both are false identities that destroy people.

But check this out, God knows Who You Are—better than you or even your parents. In fact, he promises that one day—all who have turned back to Him for forgiveness and relationship will finally know exactly who you are. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it. Revelation 2:17 A name implies an identity. God promises to one day tell you exactly Who you are–you’ll never wonder or doubt how special and valuable you are again. It will be something only you and God know. He wants you to know right now, you are unique and valuable to him. As you follow him, He wants to help you become Yourself fully!

He also tells us “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 You were made for a purpose. God not only planned in advance before you were born but He made you for a purpose. And that purpose, by the way, was determined in advance. It says you’re God’s workmanship.

You were made for a purpose which includes your career, your various jobs, but it also includes your participation as a vital part of His Body—his church. That’s what we started looking at last week in 1 Cor 12, and we’re gonna continue in that chapter today.

Last week we saw this amazing, mysterious thing that God is doing. God wants to live and dwell and do His work through you and me and the people around you—together! But first, we must turn back to God, be restored into right relationship, so God can lead us. That’s why Christ died that first Easter—to pay the price God requires for all the evils we do to be forgiven. If you have accepted God’s forgiveness and want his guidance, it says Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 12:27 Well, that’s the church—God’s building something made up of free willed people.] Church is not a building, church is a Body—a gathering of people who as we willingly love and serve God together, we do what Jesus did when He was on earth. That’s what the world needs. Think about all the needs around us.

Every Christ follower needs to understand:

Your Part Is Vitally Important.

The evils of this world try to get you to compare and feel unworthy, or unneeded, or unimportant. Here’s why, because if you believe you’re not vitally important, you’ll stay on the sidelines—then God can’t do as much through us together as He intended. That’s what Paul goes on to address in 1 Cor 12:

            13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body…the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body…if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 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? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

One of the biggest reasons local churches fail is that they fail to function as a coordinated body. One reason is when the parts don’t feel important. Your physical body is incredibly complex and well coordinated by your mind. But Imagine if your kidney’s decided to not work because people are always complimenting your Eyes, no one ever says what nice Kidney’s you have. So the kidney’s stop functioning—what happens to your body? It slowly deteriorates until the whole thing is on life support.

It’s the same way with the Body of Christ. Some of you have felt unworthy or not gifted or talented, or unimportant—that’s held you back from functioning in your gifted, passion areas. And it’s holding us all back. We have about 1200 people serving together weekly or 2x a month, but imagine if we had 4000 serving together—God’s Body could serve and help and heal so many more people. Don’t let the world lie to you—Your Part is Vitally Important to God and to us. And don’t think you’re unworthy or disqualified—Jesus paid the price to forgive and set right all past, present, and future mistakes so that no one stays disqualified unless they’re just stubborn and unwilling. So every Christ Follower needs to say “My Part is Vitally Important.” Do you realize that? We need you to realize that. But also…

Your Part Is Equally Important.

The other lie that holds back the church, His Body, is when we don’t equally value the other gifts, ministries, and people as much as we do ourselves or whatever we’re involved in. The world teaches us, some are more important than others.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment…. 1 Corinthians 12:21-24

            In the world—Some body parts get way more attention than others—you’ve probably seen certain body parts selling product on commercials. When was the last time you saw a scantily clad big toe selling beer? Yet your big toe is how you can walk and run! God wants us to value all the parts equally—no matter what gifts, in what ministries, or to what scope. It’s all God’s work in and through us, so it all matters. We can’t all be vocalists on stage—that wouldn’t be good. Some of you have great voices and you can sing. Others of us are prison singers – we’re always behind a few bars and never have the right key. You couldn’t carry a tune if it were in a baggy. Admit it! Not everyone’s going to have an up-front role, but in God’s eyes, those are not the most honorable—it’s the unseen acts of service that are most honorable. Jesus promised that every little act of service no one sees, God sees and when we are face to face, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’… ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. Matthew 25:34-40

All the gifts are important, even if we don’t understand or fully value them now as much as we do our own. Everybody sees the people like me up front—the Face Gifts—teaching, leading, music, drama, creative communication. But what we do up here is not more important, not more significant than those unseen servants with gifts of helps or leadership or administration that you don’t see. And as this says—it’s not the upfront, public gifts we need to lift up and honor—it’s those humble, behind the scenes servants we need to honor most.

Encourage and Develop One Another.

That’s why we need to value each other with our diverse gifts, ministries, and effects—we need each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 1 Corinthians 12:26 This is how God wants us to view each other’s differences. And we need to encourage each other. Not only do we need you to discover your gifts, and deploy them in service, but you need to develop those gifts. I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God…. 2 Timothy 1:6 Paul says to his young padewan apprentice Timothy. God is the one who works through our gifts, but he works in cooperation with us as we develop those gifts.

Have you ever seen Geese flying south for the winter? They fly in a V formation, you know why? It’s because the flapping of the wings creates an uplift for the bird behind. By flapping in a V formation, the whole flock adds at least 70% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone. We go farther together, re-presenting to the world what Christ, the servant is like, when we serve each other and the world around us together. We’re better together.

Let’s not ever be people who just play church. I promised I would never play church. You know what it means to play church? Picture a flock of geese. They come in and squat on the ground for an hour each week, they sing about flying, then one goose stands up and talks about all the benefits of flying explaining “we don’t have to just walk on the ground, we can soar above it all –we can experience something better—we can go far together.” But after listening to the goose-master’s sermon, they all waddle home on two feet. All they had to do was flap their wings, but they don’t often do it.

God created you to be a vital, interdependent part of His Body, the local expression of His church. We’re meant to be so much more than what happens one hour on Sunday. This is an important part, but just the Inspiration for how we live together and serve together and watch God change the world through us—His Body.

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