Saturday, April 25, 2015

Sunday Reading: A Fellowship of Differents, by Scot McKnight #2

41EvRIDnBvL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_This is the second installment of blogging through Scot McKnight’s newest book, A Fellowship of Differents: Showing the World God's Design for Life Together. Today I am looking at chapters 3 and 4 which are focused on the theme of grace.  One thing that I am enjoying a lot about this book is the many real stories, from different periods of history and different types of people, that illustrate how the theological ideas really work. Especially today it reminded me of my own experience with understanding that God was saying “Yes!” to me and how, when I was in seminary, I experienced the understanding that I was in God’s grace and was accepted by God only because he loved me through Jesus.  I am going through the book two chapters at a time every Sunday, posting some quotes on my Facebook page and a summary here on my blog. I welcome comments on my Facebook page. Quotes from the book are in blue.

Chapter 3 is entitled Space for Yes. The point is that the church must be the place where people can experience the fact that God fully accepts them in Christ Jesus. It should be the place where people experience the compassion, forgiveness and acceptance that God provides in Christ. God’s character is to always relate to people in love. (Even judgment is done in love.) It begins with Jesus…

Does the Father love Jesus? If God does, then God loves you. What God thinks of you is what God thinks of Jesus. That is the greatest Yes echoing back through the galaxies of time and forward into all eternity. That Yes is the only Yes that matters.

And becomes the basis for acceptance of all of us.

God’s Yes is not rooted in our performance, but rather in our areness. God loves us because we are made in his image. God’s Yes is this: “I love because you are you!”

This is also shown in the fact that the Spirit lives and works within us despite our shortcomings and differences. The whole Trinity is working with us! The bottom line is that, in Christ, God accepts and is for us. Thus, the church must be as accepting as God is and we should reflect this by fellowship with people who live differently than us and sin differently than us.

The revolution God creates in the church begins or ends with this first step: either we embrace that God’s Yes is for all or we don’t.

Chapter 4 is entitled Space For Grace. The point here is that God’s grace has space for all people, but does not leave them “in the space” where God found them. “In Christ” we are changed into the unique God image we were meant to be. The church must reflect the many different types of people that are in the different stages of this process. It seems to me that one of the biggest indicators that the Spirit is doing this in a church is when people who would not otherwise be together develop love and relationship with each other.

Grace turns a Christian-baiting, Torah-loving Pharisee such as the apostle Paul into a Christian-loving, Christ-following apostle.Read more at location...To do this, grace forgives; grace heals; grace transforms; grace ennobles; grace empowers. Grace makes people in the salad bowl comfortable with another. Only grace can do that. But grace can do that.

We can’t just make grace about God accepting “nasty sinners,” focusing only on our past BC life and conversion experience. Grace is what it is all about every day in the life of the church – a bunch of diverse people in progress in and toward Christ.

The church, if it is going to be the church God designed it to be, must become a space for the full story of God’s artistic grace — the story about where we were, where we are now, and where we will be someday.

McKnight concludes…

Let us remind ourselves that a local church shapes the Christian life. Let us remind ourselves that the challenge is to establish a grace-created and grace-creating fellowship of differents. But a Christian life shaped for that kind of fellowship will require not only grace but also love.


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