Known for books like The King Jesus Gospel and The Jesus Creed, Scot McKnight explores Paul’s vision of the church and helping us understand what Christian fellowship should look like in his newest book, A Fellowship of Differents: Showing the World God’s Design for Life Together.
Weaved together with his own personal experience in church, McKnight looks at Christian life by asking: What is the church supposed to be? and If the church is what it is supposed to be, what does the Christian life look like? He writes that God designed Christians for a fellowship of “differents.”
McKnight makes his point about the necessity of diversity in church by using a salad metaphor. Somewhat humorously, he explains that there are three ways to make a salad: the American way, the weird way, and the right way. The American way is to combine iceberg lettuce with a few vegetables, smothered in ranch or some other type of dressing. In other words, to make the individuality of the ingredients disappear under the homogeneous flavor of the whole. The weird way is to entirely separate the ingredients. Finally, there is the “right” way, which is to chop up spinach and arugula, add tomatoes, carrots, onions, red peppers, and purple cabbage. Follow that up with the addition of nuts and dried berries. Sprinkle some pecorino romano cheese on it. Drizzle olive oil over it to bring the taste of each item to the fullest. The church should be a mixed salad.
Our local church shapes us, notes McKnight. Therefore, our local church matters. Our local church influences what we believe and how we live out what we believe. Since local churches have such an impact on our lives, church is incredibly important. McKnight asserts that God designed the Church to be a mixture of people. Whereas he grew up in a “fellowship of sames and likes” without much variety, he states that was never God’s intention for the Church. The church is “God’s world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the table to share life with one another as a new kind of family.”
While it may be more comfortable to worship with people who look like you, have the same taste in worship as you, vote the same as you, and hold the same beliefs about everything as you, that is not a fellowship of differents. McKnight helps readers think carefully and critically about the Church. He writes:
God designed the church to make the previously invisible visible to God and to one another in a new kind of fellowship that the Roman Empire and the Jewish world had never seen before.”
While convicting, this is ultimately a hopeful message. He notes:
The purpose of the church is to be the kingdom in the present world, and the Christian life is all about learning to live into that kingdom reality in the here and now.”
I believe it is a worthwhile read, especially if you never interact with anyone different than you. When I worked for a Christian organization and volunteered with a youth ministry while attending a Christian university, I will admit I did not interact with a lot of people that were very different than me. Traveling from Christian Bubble to Christian Bubble is not the life God called us to live. Diversity is vital for the life of the Church. What if we, as the Church, reflected and embraced that diversity?
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.