We’ve arrived at the final chapter of The King Jesus Gospel, “Creating a Gospel Culture.” McKnight doesn’t disappoint in his concluding chapter. He begins by contrasting cryptic cave drawings in Ireland whose meaning (if ever existed) has been lost and one of the Celtic high...
We’ve arrived at the final chapter of The King Jesus Gospel, “Creating a Gospel Culture.”
McKnight doesn’t disappoint in his concluding chapter.
He begins by contrasting cryptic cave drawings in Ireland whose meaning (if ever existed) has been lost and one of the Celtic high crosses.
The high cross depicts biblical stories and is beautiful in its art form, but without interpretation, it means nothing.
Which is true for life: For McKnight’s money, “the gospel is Jesus’ and the apostles’ interpretation of the story of life“ (147).
Stories tell us how to act–emulating good examples, being sure not to repeat bad examples, learning what to laugh at, what to cry at, and a host of other postures and ways of being in the world.
The gospel is the interpretation of life that makes sense when following the King Jesus.
McKnight then dives into a headlong rendition of the gospel story, beginning in the begining (Genesis) and running all the way to the end (Revelation).
What struck me while reading his account of gospel history is the repeated rebellion of us human types. Rejecting has been our nature, from Adam and Eve rejecting God, to the people of Israel rejecting leadership (judges, kings, God), and finally to everyone rejecting Jesus, God become flesh.
But you can’t get that note from a flash card version of the gospel, which is what makes McKnight’s longer form (though he admits not exhaustive) version so helpful.
In one sitting you get swept up in the action of God throughout history. We often miss this when we read individual pieces of Scripture, expecting to “get something” out of our efforts.
Takeaway from this story: “what usurpers [that’s us] fear the most is the goodness of God, but, paradoxically, what usurpers most want is the goodness of God, and Jesus was that God, and that is why Jesus as Messiah and Lord is the gospel” (152).
Which makes complete sense when you sit with it for a moment.
God created us to be eikons, ruling under his own rule. But we thought we could interpret reality in a different and better way. We thought there was a better path to goodness, so we stormed the throne and came up empty.
Until, we get to the church, or new creation people in Jesus. This whole quote is excellent, sorry for the length:
Those last two lines highlight our calling as apprentices of Jesus: rule on God’s behalf (we live in the kingdom of God), and learning, living and telling the story.
But how do you get a gospel culture from that?
We have to become people of the Story (the big story) and people of Jesus’ story. We have to learn to soak in the gospels, ask questions, ponder, discover how the gospel connects to the story of Israel.
If the story of Jesus is the culmination and completion of the story of Israel, then the better we learn the story of Jesus, the better we will learn the story of Israel.
Put differently, a better understanding of Jesus will only come when we search out the Old Testament. And that searching out of the Old Testament will inform our understanding of the story of Jesus.
It’s a win-win.
I’m a liturgical (liturgy means “the work of the people) nerd, so my favorite suggestion from McKnight is: follow the church calendar, because it follows the story of Jesus.
In Advent, we expect the coming of the Christ child, but also the return of Christ and the culmination of all things in and through him.
At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Christ. At Epiphany Christ is revealed to the Gentiles (non-Jewish world–also you and me).
Then comes Lent, Holy Week (Jesus’ final week, crucifixion, burial, resurrection) and then onto Pentecost (the Holy Spirit poured out) and the ascension of Christ to the right hand of the Father.
Then in ordinary time, we study Jesus’ teachings and healings in the gospels (apparently healing is ordinary for this Jesus character).
By following this story of Jesus in church each Sunday, we’ll get the whole gospel story every year. How great is that?
In addition, we need to know the story of the church, from Acts to recent times. Once we learn this story, we can discover ways (both good and not so good) of adapting the gospel to fit our audience and context.
We’ll close with McKnight’s words:
“…this book is a plea that we will both discern the apostolic gospel and embrace that gospel so deeply we are wholly transformed into the image of Christ himself. A gospel culture can only be created if we are thoroughly converted ourselves” (158).
There are a number of other gems in this final chapter, but hopefully this whets your appetite enough to go read the whole thing.
I think McKnight’s counsel is spot on and easily adaptable into almost any church setting. Who’s going to argue with diving more deeply into the story of Jesus and being transformed more and more into the image of Christ?
The work of creating a gospel culture is simple, but not easy. Here’s to realizing that reality in your community of faith.Share on Facebook Tweet This Pin This