This is part of a book blogging project for Scot McKnight‘s book, One.Life. In this blogging project, various contributors will be looking at each chapter of the book as McKnight unfolds his answer to the question, “What is a Christian?” I believe that what McKnight has to say will challenge each of us in different ways on how we view what it means to follow Jesus and how we help children and families understand that. Please interact with what is written here in the comments section below. Also, I encourage you to pick up One.Life and read along with us adding your thoughts and impressions as well.
The review for chapter 4 is submitted by Emily Mullens. Emily is a 20+ year veteran in kidmin and currently serves as Next Generations Ministry Director at Riverwood Church near Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She also operates The Children’s House, a non profit Montessori school. Emily enjoys serving as a curriculum and resource reviewer for Ministry-to-Children.com. In her free time, Emily travels to Jamaica to teach and work with the children of the rural Blue Mountain area. She lives with her husband Dan, and 4 children, Emily Ruth, Nick, Jesse and “Rocket” the Shar Pei.
Chapter 4: Love.Life
In Scot McKnight’s new book One.Life, he lays out a plan for a kingdom life. From the first chapter, I was hooked! It begins:
“If we were to ask Jesus our question—What is a Christian?—what would he say?… Jesus’ answer, which he stated a number of times, was, ‘Follow me…’ But what does that look like?” (p. 17)
In each chapter McKnight illustrates Jesus’ vision of what it means to be one of his followers.
Chapter four, Love.Life, begins, “I am a theologian and Bible expert…” I thought that was a bit intimidating. I’m just an ordinary wife a mother, and an occasionally overworked Sunday school teacher. As I read through McKnight’s work from a “mom” perspective, though, clarity began to arise in me. If I try to be “right” not only will I “miss” Jesus, but so will my children!
McKnight explains how the doing-right, looking-right Christian behavior misses, entirely, what Jesus taught. As a young girl who grew up un-churched, I longed to look “right”. I wanted to belong to the “right” group—the “churched”. I spent years trying to be a part of that group. I was a saved-by-grace, church-going, scripture-memorizing, over-committed servant. It looked good on the outside, but I felt empty on the inside. Luckily, I began to figure out what was missing, and I began to capture what I had been missing.
In the fourth chapter of One.Life, McKnight captures what I was missing. It begins by pointing out there is a “difference between focusing on being right and focusing on being a follower of Jesus.” As an ordinary wife and mother who tries daily to raise kingdom-heart kids who love God and love others, I often feel torn between looking “right” and being a follower of Jesus. I often take the safe way, protecting my children and not exposing them to the world and it’s unseemly influences. But, to truly love God and love others, there are risks to be taken. Jesus certainly didn’t play it safe or go with the flow. By truly giving my one.life to Him, I must trust him and follow him and focus on love—a life absorbed in love. To raise my children to love others, I must first let go of “right.”
“For Jesus, everything is shaped toward becoming people who love God and who love others, and nothing less than a life absorbed in love is sufficient to describe what a Christian is for him.” It is not enough to be “saved” and to do the right thing. Those behaviors without loving others fall short of a “Jesus-shaped theology.” The aim is that everything we are called to do is twofold: that we are to become people who love God and people who love others.
McKnight explains that in Jesus’ time Jews daily recited the Shema,
“Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is the one.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul
and with all your strength.”
As the author explored the gospels, he saw, as if for the first time, that Jesus wasn’t satisfied with a Shema kind of spirituality—a “love God” spirituality. This led McKnight to discover what he calls the Jesus Shema or Jesus Creed: all we do is out of love for God and love for others. The kingdom vision of Jesus is a kingdom filled with people who are noted by one word: love.
McKnight tells how the religious leaders of Jesus’ day had added rule after rule to the Torah clarifying the specifics of how things were to be done “right.” They eventually stood in judgment of others, often not obeying the 613—yes, 613 rules—themselves. Jesus, being one of the greatest teachers about love in the history of humankind, gives us a better way. He reduced 613 to 2: “If you love God and love others, you do all God wants of you.”
Living the Jesus Creed—Love God, Love Others—is so basic and so simple, yet it has the potential to transform our hearts instantaneously. At the author’s suggestion, I have tried several days to begin and end my day with the Creed as well as saying it every time it popped into my head during the day. There were many instances where I caught myself thinking about the Creed before acting or reacting… before speaking or listening. It immediately changed my view of the world and how I reacted to both the internal and external forces at work in my life. The power of just thinking about the Jesus Creed has already changed my view. Imagine what will happen when I begin to act on it instinctively.
Thinking about God’s love.life for us in this way will change how we do ministry, change how we parent, change how the children we work with and raise see Jesus and respond to his call for them, and make us transformational leaders and teachers. We can truly give the next generation a glimpse of God’s kingdom.life.
Be sure to check out the rest of this book blogging project:
- March 28 – Chapter 1: One.Life – Doug Olson
- March 29 – Chapter 2: Kingdom.Life – Eli Suddarth
- March 30 – Chapter 3: Imagined.Life – Dan Scott
- March 31 – Chapter 4: Love.Life – Emily Mullens
- April 1 – Chapter 5: Justice.Life – Noel Walker
- April 2 – Chapter 6: Peace.Life – Jesse Smith
- April 3 – Chapter 7: Wisdom.Life – Jared Massey
- April 4 – Chapter 8: Church.Life – Tim Shiels
- April 5 – Chpater 9: Committed.Life – Chris Lema
- April 6 – Chapter 10: Sex.Life – Henry Zonio
- April 7 – Chpater 11: Vocation.Life – Helen Lee
- April 8 – Chapter 12: Eternity.Life – Christiaan VandenHuevel
- April 9 – Chapter 13: God.Is.Love.Life – Henry Zonio
- April 10 – Chapter 14: Cross.Life.Ressurection.Life – Barbara Graves