I left the re:group conference with a list of books to add to my reading stack. First up? A Fellowship of Differents: Showing the World God’s Design for Life Together by Scot McKnight. If you’re not familiar with McKnight, he is currently Professor of New Testament at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, IL, and the author of a numerous books including The Jesus Creed, The King Jesus Gospel and One.Life.
In A Fellowship of Differents, McKnight wrestles with a couple key questions:
- What is the church supposed to be?
- If the church is what it is supposed to be, what does the Christian life look like?
The answer to the first question? He finds it in the metaphor of “the salad bowl, which reflects the ways all us ‘differents’ — from different socioeconomic groups, genders, educational and ethnic backgrounds, and life situations — struggle to come together in fellowship as the church God intended (p. 13).
The answer to the second question is that “if the church is a fellowship of differents” six themes “become central to the Christian life”:
- Grace: “the challenge is to establish a grace-created and grace-creating fellowship of differents (p. 48).”
- Love: “the church God wants is one brimming with difference, and that will mean the Christian life is all about loving whoever happens to be with you in this fellowship of differents (p. 63).”
- Table: “When God’s people live in fellowship with one another, when they ‘do life’ together, the church embodies the gospel about King Jesus and peopel respond to the gospel about them (p. 112).”
- Holiness: “Christians are in the process of transformation, all of us without exception. Some are more mature in one area than in others, but no one is perfect –and that means we both desire mature Christian living and know maturity takes time (p. 133).”
- Newness: “Everything about this early church life was new for everyone, including Paul. They were trying out a new kind of community under a new Lord with new people around them all kinds of new ideas about new morals. What God was doing was so full of promise, so altogether…well…new (p. 147).”
- Flourishing: “Flourishing in this new community is what God wants for us, and when we let that work of God shape us, we will discover something that transcends what anyone could expect (p. 228).”
A Fellowship of Differents is an important read. It’s not a difficult read, as challenging understandings are interwoven with clarifying stories and illustrations. My copy is marked up and plenty of sections ended up being read more than once to make sure I fully caught the implications.
If you’re searching for a better understanding of how the Church and Christians are to live in changing world, I highly recommend you add A Fellowship of Differents to your stack.