Have you ever really thought about how most people who say they are Christians answer that question? And, have you ever wondered how the popular understanding of the Christian life stacks up against what is found in the New Testament? The most important question is, “How did Jesus define what we call ‘the Christian life’?”
Scot McKnight states emphatically, “Jesus didn’t define the Christian life the way I did, and the way many do today.” In his book, One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow, the author draws from four decades of researching and studying the life of Jesus, to present a powerful picture of what it means to live like Jesus – that is, to live the Christian life. He sketches throughout the book, his portrait of what a follower of Jesus should look like in relation to what Jesus said about the Kingdom of God, and life as a part of this kingdom.
Here’s the bottom line! Jesus summed up what it means to live a Christian life in a simple and profound way, using only two words: “Follow Me!” That’s it! If we are not following Jesus, then regardless of what we call it, if we are not “following His example” we are not living the Christian life!
The author points out that Jesus’ invitation to “Follow Me” was not primarily an invitation to “go to heaven when you die,” nor was it only an invitation to a life of personal piety and prayer. Heaven is a certainty for a follower of Jesus, and living a morally responsible life is a given. However, the call to follow Jesus is a call to a cross, a call to death, a call to suffering, and overall, a call to serve with those who are the “least of these.” ScotMcKnight does an excellent job weaving his personal journey of faith throughout his exposition of key passages where Jesus explains the mission and purpose of those He calls to follow Him.
At the heart of the message of the New Testament, following Jesus is about becoming an active part of His Kingdom, right now! In other words, Jesus’ concept of the Kingdom of God is focused on life right now; right here, right where we live.
He underscores the truth that Jesus’ call to become a part of His Kingdom is central to understanding the Christian life – a kingdom firmly rooted in the realities of this world – realities such as preaching the Gospel to the poor, and caring for those He identified as “the least of these.” Jesus defined His own calling, and subsequently the calling of all those who follow Him in three primary texts: His first sermon in Luke 4:16-21, His most famous sermon in Luke 6:20-26, and His response to John the Baptist in Luke 7:20-36. And, we must never forget what He said in John 20:21, “As my Father has sent me, so send I you.”
For me, one of the most impactful sections of the book is his discussion of the “Jesus Creed.” Calling upon his understanding of Judaism in the first century, the author shows the importance of what Jesus meant when He cited the Jewish Shema in response to the question regarding which commandment was most important. You must love God and love your neighbor! That’s the sum of everything in the Law and the Prophets! McKnight suggests we practice reciting the Jesus Creed every day, and employ it in every decision and in every turning point in our lives. The impact would be huge.
This book was written for those who are searching for purpose and direction in their life. It is an excellent book for young people who are seeking to better understand God’s will and purpose for their lives. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to better understand what it means to be a follower of Jesus!