You know what I like? I like it when people shake things up a bit. I like it when someone recognizes that the status quo isn’t quite right and has the compulsion to say something about it. I like having my cage rattled and I like it when I know many other cages are likewise being rattled.
You know what I like even more? I like it when that instigator has also thought through things enough to follow up his cage rattling with some real and positive steps towards a better future. It is not enough to simply say things are wrong. A compelling vision of what could be must be presented. My gratitude to Scot McKnight for doing just that. His final two chapters of The King Jesus Gospel (find a summary of chapter 9 here) provide some tangible steps forward after eight chapters identifying where we’ve gone wrong with the gospel.
It is in this final chapter that McKnight sketches, all in one place, what he regards as the full scope of the gospel narrative. Listen, this book is worth purchasing for these five pages. Dr. McKnight rather adeptly takes the Jesus story all the way back to creation, follows it through the formation of Israel, the exile and return, and lands with Jesus’ own life and what it means for the whole of humanity and the world. My jaw dropped at this brilliant summation of the scriptures.
From there, McKnight identifies several key components that should be found within any community that embraces that full story.
- People of the Story. The Book, the whole Book must define us. We’ve got to know what the Lord has been up to all along and where we fit in that tale. We must allow it to shape us.
- People of the Story of Jesus. This should be a no-brainer, but we’ve got to know Jesus’ story too. And we’ve got to know what it means, then and now. If we’re going to be his people, we ought to know who he was and is.
- People of the Church’s Story. Maybe this one makes you a little uncomfortable. There’s no question the church has gotten things wrong quite a bit over its long history. Nevertheless, there are many places (more than any of us know) where the church has gotten it so so right. We would do well to know our heritage.
- Developing Counter Stories. There are any number of stories that fundamentally oppose our own. The world has come up with myriad ways of telling the story of life, many with hints or elements of the Christ story, but more often they are distortions or outright lies. It would behoove a gospel culture to make itself aware of these and know how to tell its own glorious story in a way that demonstrates its own truth vs. opposition.
- Embrace the Story. The call to embrace our own gospel story is simply a call to actually embody the very gospel we read in the gospels. This is a call to become the people of the new creation, people who resemble Jesus and, therefore, our God. This is a call to embrace a reality in which we become the representative rulers of the earth, distributing the Creator’s blessings everywhere we go.