A Fellowship of Difference

This is written by Matt Coombs who is one of the leaders at St Mary's and is married to Pip.


37 The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Sukkoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. 38 Many other people went up with them…

‘Many other people.’

The Hebrew is erev rav (עֵרֶב רַב).

It means a ‘mixed multitude’. When the Hebrew slaves left Egypt it wasn’t just Jewish people who left, it was an erev rav. A motley crew. A ragtag group of nobodies. Immigrants. All sorts of people who didn’t really fit the pattern joined them on their way. Probably some slaves who were not Hebrews, and some Egyptians who responded to God’s mighty acts. According to Jewish tradition, they were accepted by Moses as an integral part of the people.

All sorts of people who didn’t really fit the mould joined the movement.

Isn’t that a picture of the church?

There is a theologian I like called Scot McKnight who wrote a book called ‘Fellowship of Difference’ where he suggests that the church is “God’s world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and difference to the table to share life with one another as a new kind of family, showing the world what love, justice, peace and reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be.”

As they exited Egypt, these people needed to find a way to live together.
The answer - circumcision (48).

Which IMHO has to be the least fun way to join a group… EVER!!!

Paul said, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (Galatians 5:6)

One Size Doesn’t Fit All
For us as the church, we should celebrate our difference. Who wants everything the same? It is faith that holds us together, a common conviction in Jesus Christ expressed in love for others - particularly to those different from ourselves. Beyond that, it is our difference and our ability to love one another that demonstrates that we are members of Christ’s church.

Do you feel like you’re in the church ‘in crowd’ or that you don’t quite fit the mould?

If you feel like you don’t fit the mould - you need to know that you are integral to our community. Keep being you! If we were, all the same, we wouldn’t be the church, we would just be another social club.

One way we can show love is to pray for others.

Are there people in the church you kind of wish weren’t there? People, who think differently to you? Believe differently to you? Look different to you? People, who aren’t in your clique?

Pray for these people, asking God to bless them, pour his love on them and knit them further into our community.
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