In preaching an advent sermon in 1 Samuel 1, I had a chance to consider what it would mean for Hinson to be a church for troubled people like Hannah. There is no such thing as “normal” and “not normal” in the body of Christ, but in Christ, all people, single, barren, foreign, old, young, etc… belong every bit as much as the other. As I reflected on this question, it became clear that we come to know God’s goodness as He brings people with all kinds of differing life experiences, backgrounds, and even sufferings into one body. Here are a few ways that this happens:
- Thankfulness – The parents who are overwhelmed by the task of parenting are reminded of God’s blessing in giving them children as they walk with couples who are childless. The Americans who hear stories of all that the refugee went through to come to America are reminded of the kindness of God in their freedoms and prosperity. And as the childless and refugee share their stories, they see the unique opportunities that they have in the body.
- Stewardship – As those who have been given much walk alongside those who have been given little, they grow in their sense of their stewardship of what God has given them. These blessings are given not merely for their own enjoyment, but in order that others may share in them. And in their faith and prayers, those who have little also have a role to play in encouraging the body and modeling hope.
- Witness – A diverse congregation will reach a diverse world. The single person, the foreigner, the ones who have experienced tragic loss, they will reach a community that the “average” person in the church will never reach. As the church comes together in our differences, we realize that those differences are strategic gifts for gospel witness.
- Humility – It’s always a gift to be able to see ourselves as others see us. The church provides a place where those who are different from us can lovingly point out our blind spots, within the security of the gospel. In our comfort and in our suffering, our differing perspectives guard the community against pride.
- Worship – When we see the greatness and reality of the gospel in bringing hope to the barren, the outcast, the grieving, the celibate, and all the rest of God’s people, we worship. We praise God for his all-sufficient grace.
What else would you add?