Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Sunday Reading–A Fellowship of Differents

41EvRIDnBvL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_This is the fourth 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 8 and 9 which are focused on the theme of diversity within the unity of the church.  In this section McKnight points out that “unity” is seen in the church as people from very different backgrounds, cultures, viewpoints etc. are able to come together and do the hard work, in cooperation with the Spirit, to become that one people of God. Communion is the symbol and action that witnesses to this unity. I am going through the book one section 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.

In Chapter 8, Tomatoes vs. Maters, McKnight compares our homogenous, unicultural, churches to tasteless, boring canned tomatoes (maters), as opposed to the “fresh tomatoes” of the way church was intended to be with a rich diversity of multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-economic classes that allows a real doctrinal conversation that comes to unity in the Spirit rather than forced conformity. “This idea, that Paul’s mission was a mixed assembly of differents, lies at the core of my own beliefs about how the whole Bible works. Instead of trying to eradicate differences the church should be a place where we learn to live together with our differences. This is, in my opinion, one of the clearest ways that shows that the Spirit is present.

The story of the Bible is not simply about the salvation of individuals. The story of the Bible is about the creation of one faithful, saved people of God, Israel. That story for Christians means the expansion of that one people of God to include Gentiles, for what God is doing in this world is creating one universal people. 87

But transcending differences in Christ does not mean eradicating differences. Eradicating differences is what happens when we’re tempted toward uniformity...Getting a new mind and living in the Spirit mean we transcend our differences while remaining different as we live with one another. Our difference is not eliminated, for difference is the vitality of our fellowship. 95

Chapter 9, The Table of Connection, is about how communion, the Lord’s Supper, is the symbol and announcement of how Christ, through His gospel actions, has brought together this diverse group, his church, into one body. Having grown up in a tradition which de-emphasized communion (I always felt like it was an afterthought, that we had to get through it to get to the sermon, or it was quickly appended to the end of the service because Jesus said we had to do it.)  Eating together is one of the supreme acts of fellowship and we have lost that connection to communion. It should be a time of worship recognizing what Christ has done, but also a time of commitment to serve the unity of the body by being in fellowship and reaching out to those who are not like us. “When you sit or walk to eat and drink at the Eucharist, it is you and God. You are to do business with God as God does business with you. Prepare in advance. Examine your heart to eliminate the noise.” We need more emphasis on it!

The Eucharist — as an action, as symbols, as an event — gospels to all those who observe and to all those who participate. It announces that sins are forgiven and sinners liberated by ingesting the bread and wine of Jesus. When we eat and when we drink, we accept and receive and participate in the atoning death of Jesus, the liberating power of the resurrection, and the expectant return of the Lord to establish his kingdom. The Eucharist is intimately connected to the gospel itself. 101

A major element of Eucharist then is found in the word connected. At the Eucharist you are connected to other followers of Jesus to focus on him together and to share food together and to worship together. Together we embody the unity of the body of Christ. 103

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