Sunday, June 07, 2015

Sunday Reading, A Fellowship of Differents #8

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 read through Scot McKnight’s new book A Fellowship of Differents: Showing The World God’s Design for Life Together. McKnight here is trying to give the church a vision for what it could be as a reflection of the image of our creative, loving, powerful God in a messed up world through the power of the Spirit who is progressively forming us into this image. 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.

The final section of the book is entitled Flourishing. In other words, how do we accomplish being and doing what God has called us to be and do? The bottom line is that this is a supernatural task and is only accomplished by the power of the Spirit that dwells in us. McKnight quotes Jimmy Dunn, “The Spirit of God transcends human ability and transforms human inability.” To be and do what God wants us to be and do we must be empowered and transformed by the Spirit.

In chapter 18, We Have Landed, but We Want the Land, McKnight explains that we have the Spirit (we have landed) but if we want to experience the land we must trust and be full of the Spirit. All the apostles, and even Jesus, needed the Spirit to do what they did. All Christians have the power of the Spirit within them to transform us to be like Christ and to do the work He has called us to do. It happens the same way that the Christian life started, through belief in God’s promises. The Spirit’s work in us is then progressive; we are not fully redeemed until the final kingdom. “All things are new because the Spirit is God’s personal presence that empowers us to flourish in the church.”

We need to drink this in big gulps: Jesus, Peter, Paul, and each of us need the Spirit. The same Spirit at work in and through Jesus is the same Spirit at work in Peter, Paul, the early Christians, and you and me. 193

Christians need the Spirit because even though the new day has come, even though transformation is happening, and even though new creation is thawing Satan’s deep freeze of death in the cosmos, the battle is still on. 196-7

When we look around, we don’t see that glorious kingdom so much as broken, wounded, and messed-up fellow Christians on a journey. In fact, we see tensions, divisions, and hassles with one another. That is why God has sent the Spirit into us — to transcend our natural abilities to love one another and to transform our inabilities to dwell with one another in a way that witnesses to God’s grand experiment, the church. 199

In Chapter 19, The Exposure Challenge, the point is that we maximize the transformation the Spirit makes in our life by exposing ourselves to His influence. The more we are in His presence, the more we will be like Him. McKnight uses Dallas Willard’s picture of “sowing to the Spirit,”

To “sow” is to commune with God, to speak with God in prayer, to trust in God, to request of God, to rely on God, to read God’s Word, to practice spiritual disciplines before God, to fellowship with God’s people, to celebrate Christ in the Eucharist, and to worship and devote oneself to love, obedience, and service. In other words, sowing is about exposure — constant exposure to the God whose grace transforms. 201

We expose ourselves to the Spirit’s influence as we are in the places He is working, exercising the gifts He gives us and allowing others to benefit us through their gifts. When we look for what God is calling us to do in His church we will find our own gifts. As the Spirit works within us we become “bolder and brighter.” That is we grow in  “graceful boldness” to influence others and the brightness of God’s wisdom and knowledge that will connect others to Him.

We must also see the paradox here that God’s gifts make us bigger by making us needier! How so? What we learn from the gifts is that God gives to us a gift, but he gives everyone else a gift too, so that we need one another if the body of Christ is to function well. 204

Chapter 20, Pete the Mechanic, is concerned with Christians fulfilling the vocation God has called them to do. Vocation and ministry should not be separated. Paul the tentmaker is a better picture of the way we should be doing ministry than the “full-time pastor.” McKnight says, “My aim here is not to convince ministers to get a “real job,” but instead for those with “real jobs” to comprehend that we are called to flourish in our gifts through that job.” 211. We flourish by doing our “ministry” through our vocations. (Honestly, I think I have had a much more effective ministry as a missionary as a school teacher/administrator than as a full-time pastor). God calls us to do ministry where we are and through who we are. If we do our work as ministry, all those seemingly insignificant acts of love will have eternal significance.

What we do now also prepares us to do what we will do then. What we do now will become the raw materials of what we will do then. What we do now, however incomplete and however below even our own standards, will one day be swallowed up into God’s redemptive perfection, and our work will radiate with God’s own glory. 217

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