McLaren devotes these chapters to “Engagement: Grappling with the meaning of Jesus’ message.” These chapters resonated with me! I don’t have much to say except that I am looking forward to the next reading segment to see where McLaren goes with this.
McLaren said Jesus’ method of using parables to teach about the Kingdom of God requires an investment of ourselves to find the meaning (p 45). How true that is. The word investment brought to mind the marriage relationship (for that matter even a friendship or any relationship). The more one invests and gives in their marriage, the better the relationship and the deeper the love grows, oft times to the extent that one gives voice to the other’s thoughts before they are uttered. No matter how many years of marriage pass, new things are uncovered about each other.
When I read a Bible story for what seems like the 10th time, or even hear the story related in a sermon, I learn something new or hear something different from the first 9 previous readings. How many times have I prayed the Lord’s Prayer only to have a phrase take on a fresh meaning? People often hear me mumble under my breath, “Why didn’t I see that before!?!” or “How could I have missed that for this long?!?” It is almost, dare I say miraculous; a moment when God’s grace gets through my thick head and stone heart.
Some time ago, it was explained to me that a miracle was God’s way of showing us a glimpse of how things should be in a world without sin, how things are in the Kingdom of God, and life as God intended it to be – Paradise. McLaren reminds us that God is not a hands off God. Not at all! “We have a measure of freedom, but our freedom doesn’t eradicate God’s freedom. God has freedom, but God’s freedom doesn’t extinguish ours.” (p 53)
They point to a kingdom we don’t live in, but have the opportunity to partake of, to be in. That Kingdom is open to all who desire to be in it. The doorway through and to that Kingdom is Jesus Christ.