Sunday, May 17, 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_I am continuing to tread through Scot McKnight’s new book A Fellowship of Differents: Showing The World God’s Design for Life Together. Normally I read through more than one chapter on a Sunday but, with the typhoon disrupting our lives here and the fact that this chapter was particularly convicting, I decided to read and post on only one chapter this Sunday.

Chapter 10 is entitled We Is Bigger Than Me. The main point of the chapter is that Americans have a tendency to think that the gospel is more about the individual than the group, so they do not need the church. In fact they feel they should not attend until they find the church that is perfect for them. This is the first of the “whispers” in the American church that challenge its importance. The first whisperer is Roger Williams (a particular hero in my background) who so tried to establish the perfect church that he pulled out of churches which he started and ended up as a church of one. The church has always been messy. “There never was a golden era when the church "did church" perfectly.” (107)

McKnight rightly criticizes those who want to be part of a church of “like-minded” people who will make a “pure church.” He quotes Bonhoeffer on the danger of this search for the perfect church.

Those who love their dream of a Christian community more than the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest, and sacrificial. 108

The second “whisperer” is Henry David Thoreau the American prophet of individualism. The American desire to follow the “different drummer” conflicts with Jesus’ emphasis on fellowship, community and love. As McKnight says, “The one who drinks the Me-beer of Thoreau will not find the We-wine of the Eucharist to his taste.” (109) This focus on the individual in American culture tends to turn the American church into a business which sells spirituality.

The church needs to be a place of sharing and community that is created by the Holy Spirit within a group of people that are not like each other. That is when the outside community will say “behold, how they love each other!” It is when the messy church is in fellowship that God is glorified, because only He could do that. As McKnight concludes…

When God's people live in fellowship with one another, when they "do life" together, the church embodies the gospel about King Jesus and people respond to the gospel about him. When they live in fellowship, the Me finds its joy in the We. It's messy, believe me, very messy, but no matter what the mess, the gospel is at work to turn messy people into holy people, even if it takes a lifetime (or more). 112

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