In the continued reading of this book by Brian McLaren, I find myself saying things like, “Oh yeah!,” “Excellent point!,” and “Amen! Amen! Amen!” Reading this series of chapters was not different…well almost.
In Chapter 14, McLaren writes about the Sermon on the Mount being the Kingdom Manifesto. How are we to live right now, right here? Jesus calls people deeper and higher (a paradox right there!). Jesus’ words fulfill the intent of the Law and takes us higher in expectations. Though “Thou shalt not commit murder” is the command, Jesus says, “When you think something vile about another, you’ve committed murder!” Huh? Just by thinking? Yuppers! We need to pay attention…all the time.
In Chapter 15 McLaren makes the excellent point that, “The kingdom of God, then is a revolutionary, counter-cultural movement – proclaiming a ceaseless rebellion against the tyrannical trinity of money, sex and power.” Huzzah! A yup! Preach on brother!
In Chapter 16 McLaren starts to get a little fruity I think. After having used the word “kingdom” throughout the book, he suggests that the word is suitable only for Jesus time but not our time; that it is no longer effective. Why I ask? It’s been good enough for your book so far. Frankly, I want I love and believe in a God who is a King, who is strong, who sits on the throne and knows what’s going on in his land.
One suggestion he makes is to change it to ‘dream.’ Thus rendering God’s kingdom as God’s dream. Imagine praying “May all your dreams for your creation come true” instead of “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Another suggestion is to call it “the dance of God” because the “universe was created to be an expresison and extension of the dance of God.” Huh? It would be quite a lengthy discussion to get into how much of our theology would need to rethought if we change kingdom to dream.
In Chapter 18 McLaren writes about the borders of the kingdom. Who’s in and who’s not. He writes, “Jesus’ wide acceptance of people seems to be in tension with a number of his statements that have an exclusive ring of their own.” “The kingdom of God that is available to all can be missed by some.” This is a concern for him and for many others in our world today. Who’s in and who’s out? How do we know? Am I in? Or out? Am I supposed to know?
One way to know McLaren says is that those who really wish to enter “actually have a change of heart.” Where he loses me is in claiming that baptism is a ritual that was important to John the Baptist, because it demonstrated who was in and who was out. Just as the Eucharist “was intended to function in a similar way – a kind of regular recommitment where people sy, by gathering around a table and sharing in bread and wine, that they are continuing Jesus’ tradition of gather in an inclusive community.”
I can see McLaren’s point. However, I feel compelled to say this, IT IS NOT ABOUT US FOLKS!!! It’s about God! It is not our concern to know who is in and who is not. Yes, we are to go out and make disciples. Yes we are to train up and lead a child in the way they are supposed to go. But it is about God. It is about obedience. It is about love. God’s perfect Love. We get our curlers in a twist because WE arent’ sure who is saved and who is not. Last time I checked it was Jesus who was going to be handling judgement day, not me. Why should we decide that the word kingdom isn’t good enough anymore? Last time I checked, it wasn’t about what I thought. It’s about what God established and used to communicate the Truth of His Word.
It’s my job to be faithful. To live within the borders of the kingdom God said was at hand. And ya know what folks? There’s A LOT OF FREEDOM IN THE BOUNDARIES. A lot! And once again, it’s not about me. It’s about God. We worship Him. Not visa versa. We’re the followers, not the leader. We’re the sinners, not the Perfect One. We didn’t write the play book, He did.
Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. I’m having a hard enough time with that. Don’t go changing the words in the rule book.
This is a good book dear readers. Ya need to get a copy.