Craig Groeschel - I'm Invaluable
Well, I have a really, really, really strong burden to try to get this message across to you today because, honestly, it's one of the most important messages I believe that I could ever preach as your pastor, and, at the same time, I think it's one of the most difficult messages for people to ever believe about themselves, and so I'm going to ask for a little bit of help to do this well today, and if you would pray with me, that'd be amazing.
Father, thank You for all Your people, Your children that You've gathered together today at different campuses, around computers, God, to honor You in this gathering. We pray that Your Living Word would speak to our hearts, and inspire us, God, to see ourselves as You see us, that we can fulfill Your calling for us in this world as an invaluable part of Your family. God, we pray this in Jesus' name. And everybody said... Amen.
I've got a question for you, and we're asking it four weeks in a row. What I wanna know is are you in, and if you're in, you're gonna say, "I'm in". We're looking at four different qualities as to how our God sees you, and all of them begin with the letters I-N. Last week, we looked at the reality that I'm invited, that you are invited into the family of God. I wanna show you where we're going over these four weeks with our icons on this screen. You are invited. Somebody say, "I'm invited". I'm invited. This week, we're gonna look at the truth of the matter that you are invaluable to God's work. Somebody say, "I'm invaluable". I'm invaluable. Next week, we're gonna look at the reality that you are influential for God's glory.
Somebody say, "I'm influential". I'm Influential. And in week four, I hope you're gonna see that you are invested in God's work. Somebody say, "I'm invested". I'm invested. I need a little help from all of you today. Those of you in Springfield, Missouri. I need somebody in Fort Worth, Texas. I need someone in South Tulsa, Oklahoma. Can you all say these things aloud? What are you? Somebody say it, "I am what? I am invited, I'm invaluable, I'm influential, I'm invested".
Today, what I wanna do is talk to you about the reality that you are invaluable to God's work. Now, just to be really, really clear, invaluable doesn't mean not valuable, it's the opposite. It means that you are, you are uniquely valuable to God. You are valuable just because you are you. You're a child of God. You're invaluable. Jesus told a parable about a shepherd that had 100 sheep, and one of the sheep, just one, wandered away. And the shepherd so much loved the one that he left the 99 to go after the one. The one was that valuable to the shepherd.
And let's think about it this way. I've got a bracelet. Imagine if I had 100 of these bracelets, and I lost one. If I lost one, I wouldn't care that much because I've got 99 other ones. You are not a bracelet. You are a child of God. I have six children. If I lost one, I wouldn't say, "Where's Joy"? "I can't find Joy. Well, I've got five others, who really cares"? I would never do that because all of my children are uniquely valuable to my heart. You are valuable to God because you are you. You are uniquely created by God. You're invaluable just because of who you are. You're a child of God.
But you're not just valuable because of who you are. You're also valuable because you were created for a purpose. You were created to make a difference in God's church, as God's church, And the reason this message is so difficult for so many people to believe is because, when we look at the church and we look at everything that everybody else does, we often feel like we're not really good enough or talented enough or spiritual enough or smart enough to make a difference.
When we look at everybody else and see how incredible they are and they can quote scriptures in their prayers and they pray prayers that make God say, "That was a good prayer," and they're powerful and they're flowing and we're insecure and we don't know that much and sometimes we make mistakes and then we do make bigger mistakes, and the lie that so many of us believe when it comes to the church is this. If I weren't here, it wouldn't really matter that much. If I wasn't here, doing my little part, it wouldn't make that big of a difference. My prayer is that you will see that you are invaluable to God's work. You are uniquely prepared with divine gifts, with passions, with talents. When God created you, he put you at this moment in history because it's at this time that you can best glorify God. You are invaluable to God's work.
In fact, I wanna show you today a metaphor from the apostle Paul. He was talking to the Corinthians, and they would've felt like a lot of us. Many of the Corinthians were not born of "noble birth". Many were slaves, they weren't highly educated. They weren't born with a silver spoon in their mouths, so they may have felt insecure about how they could make a difference. And Paul gave them this metaphor and he compared the church, or the people of God to a human body and this is what he said. He said, "The human body," 1 Corinthians 12, has many parts, but the many parts make up the whole body. So it is with the body of Christ".
The human body has many parts. You've got an ear, got an eye, got a nose, got a mouth, got a hand, got a thumb, got an elbow, got a knee. The human body has many, many parts but all these different parts make up one body. And he was comparing the body parts of the human being to his family, or the metaphor the body of Christ. I'll try to explain it to you this way, and we're gonna play a game for fun. All of our churches, I'd love for you to play along. I'm gonna show you some photos of animals. I'm gonna ask you, I'm gonna tell you what they're called because you'll know and then I'm gonna ask you what is a group of these called.
Let's go ahead and start, and we'll get the first one out here. We all know a single one of these animals is called an elephant. Who knows what a group of elephants is called? If you know it, would you say it aloud? They're called a herd, exactly. So let's look at it, they are called a herd. Let's look at another animal just for fun. A group of lions. Who knows what a group of lions is called? If you know it, say it aloud. It's called a... Pride. Very good, a group of lions is called a pride.
Let's take a look at another one just for fun. A group of leopards. What would a group of... Try a group of cheetahs. What would a group of cheetahs... You gotta get the first part. What would a group of cheetahs be called? Not Cheetos. Do you like the technology like when I swipe... Watch this, watch this. What would a group of cheetahs be called? They'd be called a coalition of cheetahs. Did you like that move? Watch this one, watch this one, watch this one. Okay. How do we do that? What would a group of donkeys be called? A group of, now, now... Be careful, church people. What would a group of donkeys be called? A group of donkeys would be called a pace of donkeys.
Let's look at another one for a moment. What would a group of crows be called? A group of crows would be called actually a murder of crows. There's nothing good about a murder of crows. That sounds like a horrible scary movie. Let's look at one more. What would a group of vultures be called? A group of vultures is actually called a committee of vultures. Why do we not have committees that vote on things at Life.Church? It's because we're not gonna have vultures flying everywhere around, okay? What do we see about this? Each animal on its own has one name, but when you get a group of animals together, they take on a new identity. Let that sink in. A single animal has one name, but a group together takes on a new identity.
What do you call a person who has submitted to the lordship of Jesus Christ? You might call that person a Christian, or you might say they're a disciple, or they're a follower of Christ. What, though, do you call a group of Christians gathered together to worship God, empowered by His Spirit to make a difference in this world? A group you might call the church, or Paul might call the body of Christ. On your own, you're just a disciple. But when you gather together with other Spirit-filled, Word-empowered believers, You take on a new identity. You are His body.
In other words, you are His hands when you serve people in His name. You are His feet when you take the message of the gospel into places it's never been before. You are His mouth when you lift others up with the goodness and encouragement of who Christ is. You are His heart when you express His love to people who are hurting or feel far from God. You are an invaluable part of the body of Christ. Anytime your enemy tells you you're not important, you're not good enough, you just step back and say, "No, my God created me. He sent His Son for me. His Spirit dwells within me. I am an invaluable part of the body of Christ".
What I hope you'll understand and embrace is this, that every part of the body matters. Every part matters. And it's almost as if the apostle Paul, when he was writing, could sense the reality that some people might feel like "I'm not that important. What I do doesn't matter that much. If I weren't here, it wouldn't really make that big of a difference at all". Because look at what the Spirit led Paul to write. This is what Paul says in verse 14. He's using the metaphor, the body, He says, "Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, 'I'm not a part of the body because I'm not the hand,' that doesn't make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, 'I'm not a part of the body because I'm not an eye,' would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye".
Go ahead and just pause there for a moment and get that visual. If it doesn't make you laugh, you're not doing it right, okay? Just a big eye. "If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell something"? Every part of the body matters. I love this portion of Scripture because so often we feel like my part doesn't make that big of a difference. And I like the way Paul contrasted the ear to the eye because, you know, if you're the ear, you might get jealous of the eye.
Think about how much attention the eye gets and how overlooked the ear is. Think about it, the eye gets all the attention. No one's ever had an ear-to-ear conversation. Right? No one in love has ever glared longingly into someone's ear, and, if they do, you should probably break up with that person because that's not normal. Think about the movies that you've seen. Have you ever seen The Hills Have Ears? Or For Your Ears Only? Think about this. Beauty is in the ear of the beholder. I've got bedroom ears. I've got stars in my... I could do this all day. I've got stars in my ear. You're the apple of my ears. The ear could so easily say, "I'm not that important". But if the ear said it, and there was no ear, there'd be nobody to hear it.
Every part of the body matters. Every part. Your part, your role, your presence, your voice, your opinion, your contribution, it all matters in the family of God. This is what Paul said. He went on to say, in verse 22, he said, "In fact, some parts of the body that seem the weakest and seem like they're least important are actually the most necessary". Those that other other people overlook, those that never get any airtime, those that aren't out on the stage and most visible are often the most necessary parts of the body because, listen to me, all of us together, all of you, all of you together are Christ's body, and each of you is a part of it.
Every single part matters. Your role matters to the heart of God, and it matters in the body. I did research on body parts that are kind of overlooked and get less airtime, kind of like on the hand, the thumb gets a lot of attention. You can play thumb games. The pointer finger gets a lot. Middle finger, I'm not gonna show it to you, but we know that the middle finger gets, has plenty of uses, most of which are not for the glory of God. There's the ring finger that all gets lots of it. Poor little pinky goes wee, wee, wee all the way home. No attention at all.
Do you know that 50% of your hand's strength actually comes from your pinky? The part that no one ever really talks about creates 50% of the hand's strength. There's another little part, the uvula. Who knows what the uvula is? The little, the dingily thing that's back here, that's back here, goes okay? That little thing, over a lifetime, will create about enough saliva to fill up two entire swimming pools. It doesn't get much play, but if you need to go swimming, just introduce the uvula to your mix of things.
I don't know anybody who'd say, "Hey, if I'm choosing body parts, I wanna be armpit hair," okay? If you want armpit hair, you're probably staring lovingly into someone's ears, that's just what I'm gonna say. But the armpit hair actually diffuses your odor to make you more naturally attractive to a potential mate. This guy in the front row just smelled his armpit hair. It just happened, I'm not lying to you. You gotta be here. It just happened on the front row right here. He just did that. It happened, God as my... Did it happen? It just happened, it just happened. It just happened. I thank God for my armpit hair.
My wife, Amy, she actually says when I stink, I smell good. That's an amazing thing. Like if I go workout and I come home all sweaty, she's like, "You smell good". That is the creation of God. How did I get her? It's all about the armpit hair. She does this with her hair, I do that, and we are good to go, okay? I'm sorry, it was that part you did that just threw me off, okay? Your part matters in the body of Christ, and it's often the parts that are least visible or seem like they're not that important that are actually the most important. I hope you'll understand this.
Just because what you do may not be visible, does not mean that it's not important. Just because other people don't see it, or don't know about it, doesn't mean that it doesn't matter to God or matter to all types of other people. You may be an invisible prayer warrior. You may spend tons of time seeking God, and nobody knows. But week after week, when lives are changed, week after week, when people say yes to the grace of Jesus, it's so often because your private faith has touched our God and public miracles are viewed because of what you did behind the scenes. You may do something so simple as to help someone feel loved. Smile at someone. Pick up a piece of trash. It may not be incredibly visible, but just because it's not visible does not mean it's not important.
So often, some of the most important things that happen are actually the parts of the body that are least celebrated or least visible. I'll give you an example. Some of you, you probably feel like a Gideon. If you don't know what a Gideon is, a Gideon, it's a title for people who are part of an organization that hand out Bibles all over the world. If you've ever been to a hotel room and pulled out your little drawer and there's a Bible in there, it's probably a Gideon Bible. People give and they pray and they work, and then there are some people that are Gideons. They actually go out and they hand out Bibles What I've always thought about the Gideons is how do you ever know if you make a difference? You get a Bible in a hotel room and you never hear the story. You hand Bibles out on a college campus and you never hear a story. Hand a Bible, hand a Bible, hand a Bible.
Sometimes people would spit on you. Most of the time, they take what you give them and throw it away or just kind of walk on by. Some of you feel like a Gideon. Well, what I hope you'll recognize is this, that there was a Gideon, who knows who this Gideon was, but in the year 1988 at Oklahoma City University, he handed me a green Bible, and that little green Bible in the King James language, which is tough to get saved, reading King James, okay? Reading King James language, I read through Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. I read all the way to Ephesians, chapter two, and this guy, who was as messed up and as hurting...
Listen, we don't judge people who do bad things. I was the people who did bad things. They could just be a miracle waiting to happen. I was that miracle waiting to happen. I read about the grace of Jesus and my life was completely changed. And that man, whoever he was, would've never ever known that story, until recently, when someone did some research and went back to find out who was the Gideon handing out Bibles at Oklahoma City University.
And I wanna show you a photo of Mike, the Gideon who was handing out photos, handing out Bibles back at Oklahoma City University. And we're not 100% sure that he's the person, but we're about 99% sure. He was most likely the person, years ago, that gave me the Bible and, when we met, for me to tell him thank you for doing something that would've gone unappreciated for years, and for him to look back with tears in his eyes and say, "I had no idea if anything I ever did really made a difference," and for me to get to tell him, "What you did changed my life and, in turn, changed other people's lives".
Listen. Other people may not ever know what your gift does. They may not ever know that you prayed for them. You may not ever know what your investment in a teenager on a Wednesday night at Switch does. You may never know that one smile when someone walked in and felt so nervous, so uncomfortable, so afraid to be in church, that one moment of welcome helped them come back again. Just because what you do is not visible does not mean it's not important.
You are invaluable to the work of God. You're intrinsically valuable because you're a child of God, but you're also practically valuable because you have gifts. You have talent. You're a part of the Body of Christ. The church is incomplete without your contribution. You're called by God, you're chosen by God. You're capable of doing what God has created you to do. You're a part of His body. Think about this. Have you ever been asleep at night, and maybe you laid on your arm the wrong way or something, and you woke up and your hand or your arm was asleep? Who knows what I'm talking about?
Okay. You had no, you're like, okay? Listen to me. That arm is a part of the body, but if the arm is asleep, it's essentially paralyzed. It's dormant. It's useless. Can I just say you're a part of the body of Christ, but if you're not using the gifts that God has given you, you've gone to sleep. That part of the body is now useless. You're not living out your divine calling, your function, your role, your part, your position. If that's you, please wake up. Wake up. You're an invaluable part. You've got something unique to offer that no one else does.
If your one part of the body is asleep, the rest of the body has to work harder. Others are putting more in because you're not doing your role. Something that God wants to be done isn't being done. Somebody that God wants to reach may not be in reach. Somebody that God wants to hear the gospel may not hear the gospel because your part of the body has fallen asleep. Wake up, church. Wake up, church. Feel this. Church is not a building that we go to. It's not an institution we're a part of. We're a living body of Christ. We are the church. We don't go to a church to meet our needs. We are the church of Jesus Christ and we meet the needs of people all over this world. That's what we do. That's who we are. You're an invaluable part of the body of Christ.
You may say, "Well, but I messed up. But I don't know enough. My life has so many dark spots in them. You don't know about my past". Listen, your past does not disqualify you from being used by God. So often, your past actually prepares you for what God is calling you to do. You've been prepared, whatever you've been through.
So, years ago, people said, "Pastor Craig, you can't be a pastor after what you did, after all those things, arrested and lying and alcohol and parties and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah". Yeah, on and on and on. Sure enough, yes, I was building my testimony back when I was in college, okay? But what did that do? If anything, I know you can be delivered. I know you can be transformed. I know what it's like to have no hope and find immediate hope. My past does not disqualify me. It has prepared me.
"Oh, but I've been divorced, I'm disqualified". Actually, no, you're better prepared to help others heal. You're better prepared to help others rebuild. You're better prepared to help people know there's hope, even in your darkest moment.
"But I was addicted, but I still struggle, and I still have doubts, and I still don't know that much". Listen, if you know the grace of Jesus, and you know how to love somebody, you are prepared to be a part of God's body. Your contribution matters. If you're still in progress, you're even better prepared. We often get so intimidated by the perfect spiritual people that come in and everything floats when they walk in the room. Listen, if things don't float when you come in the room, you are prepared to make a difference.
What do you think? What do you think could happen, if every part of the body engaged in ministry? What do you think could be different in our communities if we saw our role as significant and invaluable to the work of God? Feel it. Feel it. Your presence matters. What matters? Your presence matters. It wouldn't matter if I came to church or not. I got six kids. If we have family night and one kid's not there, it is incomplete. We have six kids, three son-in-laws, two grandkids, a dog, two birds, two cats, one only has three legs, we call it Tripod. If one son-in-law, if one grandkid, if one person's not there, my family is incomplete.
Your presence today matters to the heart of God. You are a part of His family. You're a part of His family. Your story matters. Your gifts matter. Your talent matters. What do you think would be possible if all of us stepped up to do what we were uniquely created to do? I'll tell you what's been possible with a few people. A few people. We've been able to get the YouVersion Bible app into the hands of about 390 million people. If everybody engaged, it could be billions. If everybody engaged, we could eradicate Bible poverty, and translate God's Word into every heart language so people around the world could hear the Word. We're able to start three, maybe four Life.Churches a year in new communities.
If everybody engaged, it could be 30, it could be 40, it could be 50. We're able to give millions of dollars into the community to meet the needs, and employ thousands of volunteers to go and to care for children, to help foster, to help adopt, to educate those who are hurting and less fortunate than the rest. Imagine what would happen. We could have every child needing a home in a loving home.
Do you realize that? We could have every child needing a home in a loving home. We could help bring life to those who have been overlooked. We could bring dignity to those who felt shamed. Every young girl who feels like there's no hope because she's pregnant and she's not married and she's gonna be ashamed, and she certainly wouldn't be welcomed in that church because she didn't live up to their expectations. We could show her the love of Jesus, and surround her with a family, and help her raise, or put her child in an environment where that child would always be loved. Around the world. People who need clean water and have no access.
If the church would rise up, that is a need that the church could actually meet. Those who are hungry. Those who are sick. We could feed them. We could give them a shot, a two dollar shot, that prevents a disease that will take their life. Think of what is possible. Think of what is possible, if you would recognize that you matter to God, that He has given you gifts, that He's given you talents, that you're valuable to Him just because you are. But you're also an invaluable part of the body of Christ. The church isn't a place you go. The church is who you are. You're His hand, you're His feet, you might be His elbow, you might be the uvula, you might be the pinky. Your role is incredibly important.
But if... If... You're not engaged, if you're not expressing and offering the unique value for which you were created, if you're asleep, dormant, paralyzed, then something that our God wants to be done in this world is not yet being done. Because you were uniquely created by God to bring value, to offer life. Every time you give, it may not be much. Your gift matters. Every time you pray, you may not feel like anything happens, but your prayers touch the heart of God. Every time you gather to worship with others, you may not feel like it that weekend, but, believe me, it matters to the heart of God, and it matters to you to be with others in His family because every part of the body needs every other part.
You have no idea how much Amy and I need you. You have no idea how much your prayers carried us. You have no idea that one of you that sent me a note this week that said, "Thank you," how much I lived on that note and let it sink into my soul. I promise you, with everything in me, I'm gonna do my part. And with everything in you, you do your part. And every part is equally important to the family of God.
And when we do all of our parts, people aren't gonna look on and say, "What, church? They're just a". No, they're gonna say, "The church? Oh my gosh. Our city is different because the church of Jesus is here. This community is different because of the church". The church is meeting needs. The church is showing love. The church is the body of Christ. You are an invaluable part of God's body.
So Father, today we ask that Your Spirit would stir within us. Give us the faith today, God, to do what You've uniquely created us to do. Help us to embrace the truth. We are irreplaceable. We are valuable to You because we belong to You. And we're called to do our part in Your body, as Your body in this world.
At all of our churches, as you're praying and reflecting today, I wanna talk to those of you who say, "I am a Christian". And you would say, "I really know there's something more for me". Maybe you just kind of come to church and you're not doing hardly anything, you know there's a lot more. Or maybe you're kind of involved somewhere but you recognize, "There's more in me. God has given me more, I care about more. I love making a difference and I really believe there's a more significant role. There's something different. There's something more for me to do". Would you lift up your hands right now? All of our churches, just lift up your hands. There's more of you right now, there's more of you. Just lift them up and say, "Yes, God. It's about my availability. It's not about my ability, it's about my availability. I'm available".
God, I pray that Your Holy Spirit that dwells within those who know You, God, that we would be so stirred, that we couldn't be asleep. We couldn't be dormant. God, give us eyes to see needs all around us. Give us ears to hear the cries of those who are hurting. God, give us a heart to care for those who are broken and lost and about to give up hope. May Your church, God, rise up. May we be a light in our cities and all over the world. God, may we be a purifying, loving salt. Stir within us, God. Stir within us. God, for the one who feels like giving up, help them see their part is important. For those not yet engaged, God, help us to see our part, embrace our role, and do what we're uniquely created to do so that Your body can show Your love all over this world.
As you keep praying today at all of our different churches, there are some of you, you're gonna say, "Yeah, that's not me, I'm not anywhere close to that. I don't even know where I stand with God". Here's what I hope you'll feel. Back to that story about Jesus and the sheep. If a shepherd has 100 sheep and one gets away, the shepherd leaves the 99 to go after the one. Listen to me, maybe you're the one. Maybe you're the one. Maybe you're watching today online or you're in a building today somewhere and there's something drawing you toward God. You don't know what it is. You're kind of curious, You think maybe there's something more.
Maybe you're desperate and scared to death and you're looking for anything to relieve the pain. There's something drawing you toward God, what is that? Let me tell you what it is very clearly. It is His love. His Holy Spirit is drawing you today and you're not here by accident. Who is Jesus? Jesus is the Son of God, who was perfect in every way, who died in our place on a cross for the forgiveness of our sins. Our God is so good. He raised Jesus from the dead so that anyone, and this includes you, anyone who calls on the name of Jesus, that person would be saved.
What does that mean? All of your sins forgiven. You don't just become a better version of you. You become new. The old is gone and the new has come. At all of our churches, there are those of you, you recognize this is why you're here. God is coming after you, He loves you. He's longing for a relationship with you, and you recognize you don't have that and you want it. What do you do? You just turn away from your sins as best as you know how and say, "Jesus, take my life". When you call on Him, Heaven hears your prayers. God forgives your sins and you become new.
At all of our churches, those who say, "Yes, that's what I need, I can sense it. That's why I'm here. I'm ready. With everything in me, I wanna be a part of His family. With everything in me, I give my life to Him". At all our churches, those who say, "Yes, today, by faith, Jesus, I need Your forgiveness. I need Your grace. I give my life to You". That's your prayer. Lift your hands high now, all over the place and say, "Yes, that's my prayer". Back up here in this section, others of you. Right back over here. Over here on this side. God bless you. Others today up here in the top section. Jesus, I need You. Right back up here as well. Church Online, you click right below me. As we have people, all the churches, crying out on the name of Jesus, would you join your faith with theirs and simply pray aloud, pray:
Heavenly Father. Forgive all my sins. Make me brand new. Fill me with Your Spirit. So I could follow You. Doing my part. In Your church. As Your church. My life is not my own. I give it all to You. Thank You for new life. Now You have mine. In Jesus' name, I pray.