Review of “This Beautiful Mess: Practicing the Presence of the Kingdom of God” “

51RApsP-foLPublished: 2006, 2013

Everything is upside down in Jesus’ economy. He began His Kingdom and today He is restoring all things. He does so in His time, His ways, and usually through our brokenness. The last will be first; the meek will inherit the earth; God’s strength is seen most clearly through our weakness. A holy God pursues us in love, and He chooses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. As Rick McKinley describes “The story I see is of a God who created a universe through and for His Son, Jesus, and that this Jesus is sovereign over it and that, as a participant in the story of creation, I am invited to show forth His kingdom and tell of His glory.”

As agents of His Kingdom, how do we get in line with God’s redemptive purposes? This book grapples with this question. I appreciate Rick McKinley’s Scriptural understanding of what Jesus came to do and is now doing in this world. It is on the horizontal front that we take different paths. As McKinley’s politics get woven into his book, the more it became apparent that we represent different political and economic traditions. McKinley seems to be as passionate about his politics as he is about his faith, and I am certain he would say that his faith informs his politics. When McKinley uses words such as “revolution”, “redistribution”, and “co-conspirators”, his tone risks overpowering the message.

The best summation of the book is found in the following, “Sometimes it seems as though we find two Gospels in the New Testament: the gospel of Jesus and the gospel about Jesus. The gospel of Jesus is usually taken to mean His announcement of the kingdom and the life He embodied in His loving actions toward the world. The gospel about Jesus refers to His atoning work on the cross and His resurrection, through which we can receive the forgiveness of sin through our faith and repentance … I believe, however, that the two are actually one gospel. When we lose the tension that comes from holding both together, we experience an unhealthy and unbiblical pendulum swing in our faith.”

This was an engaging and though provoking read. The discriminate reader may enjoy having his or her assumptions challenged. I was challenged to consider which aspects of my faith have been informed by my culture. The gospel is the lens through which I should understand the world, not vice versa.

I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group for review.

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