As many of you reading this will no doubt acknowledge, Brian McLaren is a name that always starts a conversation. Nonetheless, I have read his “A New Kind of Christian” trilogy and recently decided to read another one of his books called The Secret Message of Jesus. I am glad I did.
This book was provocative from the title on and left me with much to think about. I am still digesting it. In a nutshell, it is a great work on the “Kingdom of God.” This idea breathes new life into my view of Jesus and His church and I think is helpful for all of us to revisit and dwell on. I have long since thought that collectively the church preaches too much on “eternity” and rarely about life now. That is why the words, “Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven” are so powerful.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes to stew on.
“This is the scandal of the message of Jesus. The kingdom of God does fail. It is weak. It is crushed. When its message of love, peace, justice, and truth meets the principalities and powers of government and religion armed with spears and swords and crosses, they unleash their hate, force, manipulation, and propaganda.”
“What if the only way for the kingdom of God to come in its true form â€“ as a kingdom â€œnot of this worldâ€ â€“ is through weakness and vulnerability, sacrifice and love? What if it can conquer only by first being conquered? What if being conquered is absolutely necessary to expose the brutal violence and dark oppression of these principalities and powers, these human ideologies and counterkingdoms â€“ so they, having been exposed, can be seen for what they are and freely rejected, making room for the new and better kingdom? What if the kingdom of God must in these ways fail in order to succeed?”
“The Christian religion continues to sing and preach and teach about Jesus, but in too many places (not all!) it has largely forgotten, misunderstood, or become distracted from Jesusâ€™ secret message. When we drifted from understanding and living out his essential secret message of the kingdom, we became like flavorless salt or a blown-out lightbulb â€“ so boring that people just walked away. We may have talked about going to heaven after we die, but not about Godâ€™s will being done on earth before we die. We may have pressured people to be moral and good or correct and orthodox to avoid hell after death, but we didnâ€™t inspire them with the possibility of becoming beautiful and fruitful to heal the earth in this life.”
“And here, perhaps, is the most astounding contrast of all: the peace of Godâ€™s kingdom comes not through the violent torture and merciless extermination of the kingâ€™s enemies, but rather through the suffering death of the king himself. The pax Christi is not the peace of conquest but rather the peace of true reconciliation. The king achieves peace not by shedding the blood of rebels but by â€“ I hope the scandal and wonder of this is not lost because the words may be familiar â€“ shedding his own blood.”
“Faith that counts, then, is not the absence of doubt; itâ€™s the presence of action.”