Many Stories United as One Body in Christ

by | Aug 7, 2017 | Church Vision | 0 comments

The great diversity within Harvest makes our church a special place. We are not a niche church, catering to one demographic and tailoring everything we do to fit that target group. Rather, our body is composed of members from different countries, races, languages, neighborhoods, ages, income levels, and levels of spiritual maturity.

Although this diversity brings unique challenges, we believe that it is a precious gift. We are a ragamuffin, motley group of individuals whom our Lord Jesus has called together to grow into a unified church. Therefore, each week we remind ourselves of the identity statement of Harvest Community Church: we are Many Stories United as One Body in Christ.

Many Stories

When we say that we are “many stories,” we intentionally affirm that everyone comes into Harvest with a different story. Each story reflects a unique redemptive history, where God has worked in the details and circumstances of an individual’s background, experiences, personality, and sin in order to save that person by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

This does not mean, though, that we are trying to find and assemble a dream team of stories. We are not exclusively recruiting the best and the brightest, the movers and the shakers, or the rich and the powerful. God has never built his kingdom through human strength, but by the power of his Spirit through the gospel of Jesus. This is what the Apostle Paul is getting at when he writes this to the church at Corinth:

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:26–31)

We are a ragtag bunch, so when we celebrate our “many stories,” we are not boasting in what we can do, but in what the Lord has done. Therefore, Harvest is a place not only for the strong (“not many of you…”), but also for the disconnected, the lonely, the misfits, and the ragamuffins.

United as One Body in Christ

God saves individuals, but not individualistically. Instead, God writes individual redemption stories within the context of his larger history of redemption of the whole church. Therefore, we are not merely many stories, but we are many stories united as one body in Christ. Elsewhere, the Apostle Paul writes this about the church as the body of Christ:

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (Rom. 12:4-5)

Although we must strive for unity in Christ, we will never look the same, think the same, sound the same, or act the same in all respects. This is not a mistake or a failure, but that diversity arises from the fact that God is assembling a complete body that requires many different members.

Your Story and the Body of Christ at Harvest

Here is your part in Harvest’s identity. First, we need your story. As a church, we aren’t complete, we aren’t perfect, and we haven’t arrived. To get where King Jesus is leading us, we need the grace and power of God’s Spirit in our midst, but we also need all the stories and all the gifts that God has distributed among his people (Eph. 4:7–16). That means that we need you! As God leads, please consider visiting Harvest, connecting with Harvest, and joining our church.

Second, you need us. We don’t mean that arrogantly, and we don’t want to draw you away from another gospel-preaching church where God has placed you. Instead, we simply mean that every individual Christian needs the wider body of Christ in a local church. You need the accountability and encouragement of real people in a specific congregation. You need the corporate worship that only a church can provide, including the proclamation of God’s word, corporate prayer, and the sacraments. You need pastors and elders to shepherd you under the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ. You need the local church!

So, if you are not already a member of another gospel-preaching church, we would invite you to consider whether God is directing your story to the body of Christ at Harvest. We would love to hear the story of how God has worked in your life up to this point, and we would love to be witnesses to how he continues to work into the future.

X