Sometimes you want to go...
Where everybody knows your name,
and they're always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Where Everybody Knows Your Name (aka Cheers Theme Song)
I received a copy of "Fellowship of Differents: Showing the World God's Design for Life Together" by Scot McKnight, from NetGalley for the purpose of generating a review. All italicized quotes below are from the book. The opinions expressed here are my own. The book releases TODAY!
I’m hoping it doesn’t offend anyone if I ask you to read sing these lyrics while thinking about your local church.
And if that makes you even a smidge uncomfortable, prepare yourself. Because Scot McKnight’s latest book, “A Fellowship of Differents,” isn’t going to be an easy read. But it’s a necessary one.
He starts out by reminiscing about his childhood days in a local Baptist church.
“Getting people saved mostly meant getting Methodists, Presbyterians, and Lutherans to come to our church, preferably for a revival.”
In the opening pages, he offer readers these principles:
Everything I learned about the Christian life I learned from my church.
A local church determines what the Christian life looks like for the people in that church.
Now I’ll make it even bigger still: we all learn the Christian life from how our local church shapes us.
If this is the case, what is the local church teaching us? That’s when I started singing Cheers. You too?
McKnight is a New Testament scholar. He is currently Professor of New Testament at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary. A big part of his life work has been about answering the following question:
“What then is the church supposed to be?”
Using modern-day examples woven in with church history, McKnight helps us understand what God had in mind when He inspired Paul to pen these words:
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28
This book does an excellent job explaining the context of this verse. It was earth-shattering stuff in Paul’s day. We don’t fully grasp this because we are so removed from the ancient Roman world. The people in these new house churches were about as different as you can imagine. These truths were revolutionary. In fact, they still are.
“The only way they would make it is if each person learned to love the others. Roman slaves and workshop owners were not used to sitting down at table and praying with Torah-observant Jews, and kosher Jews were not used to reading Scripture with prostitutes or migrant workers....”
Consider the widows among you. The single. Various races. The differences in education and economics. Varying approaches to worship. Contrasting interpretations of Scripture (not necessarily about the BIG stuff but maybe).
How much different can you tolerate in your local church?
McKnight leaves nothing untouched. What I appreciated most was he doesn’t come across as preaching. He just presents questions for you to consider. His insight on what “going to church” looked like in the first century will fascinate.
You won’t read this book and get immediate answers. Sometimes answers come only after we examine our thinking and make necessary adjustments.
“When [we, the church] 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).”