When I first read the title of Brian McLaren’s latest book, The Secret Message of Jesus, a small shudder went down my spine. Is it possible that the man who brought us such memorable and challenging books as A Generous Orthodoxy and A New Kind of Christian had sold out to the ‘how-to-lead-a-victorious-Christian-life-if-you-just-follow-these-10-easy-steps” palaver that has proliferated over the last 10 to 15 years in Christian publishing? As I dug into The Secret Message of Jesus I was pleased to find out that all is well in the world of McLaren.
In Matthew 10:7 Jesus says “the kingdom of Heaven is near.” Most of us have grown up with the understanding that near refers to a future time when Jesus returns and the kingdom of God reigns over the earth. McLaren’s supposition however, is that the “secret message” Jesus preached was the kingdom of God here, now, among you. It is not just a future glory to look forward to but is to be lived out by everyone who chooses to enter into it. In McLaren’s words, “the King is in the kingdom, and the kingdom is among us here and now – for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. The King is present in the mess and chaos of everyday life on earth…bringing healing, sight, perception, liberation, wholeness, wholesomeness, movement, health, fullness, nourishment, sanity, and balance. The incursion of the kingdom has begun.”
If this perception rings true, how then does my perspective of the world change if I am seeking the establishment of God’s kingdom on a daily basis? How do I view my neighbours, my co-workers, my friends? How might this change our traditional methods of evangelism? How does my view of the environment change? What about poverty, oppression, and injustice both at home and abroad?
The Secret Message of Jesus offers a unique perspective on what it means to be participants in the kingdom of God and is an excellent launching pad for discussion of these and other issues as we try to reengage the church with the culture at large. In many ways this is a far more personal book as it challenges us not just to change our theology, but to change our world as well.
Also posted to Amazon.ca and published in RYUN Magazine (September issue).