One.Life (4)

Chapter 3 of Scot McKnight’s new book One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow is Imagined.Life

Scot continues his theme of kingdom of God life being far broader and bigger and all encompassing than a privatised personal and pietistic faith. He does this through sketching 8 examples of concerns found in the parables of Jesus. Parables can be seen as stories of kingdom life. They are stories of God’s ‘kingdom come’ on earth and what life in the kingdom of God looks like in practice.

Take note, says McKnight, Jesus never told a ‘personal piety parable’. He did tell many stories of the sorts of attitudes and behaviour and values that mark those who belong to the kingdom of God.

Here are the 8 examples Scot chooses (no Bible refs given):

God is at work in your ordinary work: the parable of the man sowing seed shows that God is at work in the everyday activities of life such as teaching a child to read, or making a cup of coffee for someone.

The little is Large: the parable of the mustard seed shows how apparently insignificant things we do can have significant consequences – such as encouraging someone, visiting a neighbour in need.

Kingdom and non-kingdom people co-existing in peace; the parable of the wheat and the tares shows a mixed field where someone’s identity if revealed at harvest. Meanwhile kingdom people are to live in peace with non-kingdom people (as much as possible I would add – it takes two to live in peace).

Giving all to kingdom life: the parables of the hidden treasure or pearl of great price show that Jesus’ followers are to give all to his kingdom life. And this might mean radical steps of faith and self-sacrifice to serve others in need.

Giving instead of hoarding: the parable of the rich fool show and the rich man who does not help Lazarus, speak of a different world where those who have help those who have not. Such stories challenge kingdom people to be marked by generosity and grace.

Don’t trust the religious experts: the parable of the Good Samaritan reveals a world where Jesus’ followers are simply to be Good Samaritans – to love and care for the poor, the marginalised, the vulnerable, the lonely.

Hearts matter more than religiosity: a parable like that of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector reveals a world where kingdom people are marked with humility, sober self-awareness of their own sinfulness and a subsequent lack of arrogant judgementalism towards others.

Judgement happens: the parable of the net points to a world where there are ultimate consequences for what we do. Those who respond to Jesus’ call to follow will find life; those who reject him will find self-fulfilment does not fill but leaves us empty.

Scot’s point in these vignettes is help readers see how the parables are ‘revolutionary scripts’ that Jesus’ followers are called to enter into. They embrace all of life – daily actions, attitudes, money, relationships, hope, justice – for they are portraits of another way of life – kingdom life.

And when you start to look at the holistic embrace of this kingdom life it is much more than reducing the good Christian life down to acts of personal piety.

I’m enjoying this book as Scot gets into his Bible stuff. I suspect the sub-text – how Jesus’ call to kingdom life is far bigger and deeper and grander than a narrow individualistic gospel – will resonate more strongly if (like Scot) that has been your experience of evangelicalism.

Comments, as ever, welcome.

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