The following is what I am calling the take-home from the book. This doesn’t cover his every point, but these are the things that hit home the most with me.
It sounds obvious to say it, but the message of Jesus was revolutionary in every conceivable way. Why?
First, it presented not just a potential future reality, but a present reality. The gospel was good news for the first hearers because it meant a new way of living, immediately. For those who followed Jesus, ideas about God’s radical new kingdom were quickly turned into decisions that altered the way they did things, not just the way they thought about things. If it was an immediate message for them, then it is most certainly the same for us. Jesus’ message invites us to be transformed now, not just in the someday hereafter.
Second, it was inclusive of people who had not yet received it, a point made obvious by the fact that Jesus often ate dinner and interacted with prostitutes, social outcasts, and other “sinners.” What this means for me is that I am looking at people differently. I’m exploring my social-isms, and have found that they are many. For example, Jesus’ message of inclusion means that God may choose to use me to show the gospel to the segment of society that I loathe the most, whoever that may be. This will require a transformation within me that only God can accomplish (with my participation, of course).
Finally, the social and political backdrop of the gospels reveals that Jesus’ intended not only personal implications, but also implications for our social and political decisions. McLaren says it well in this passage from chapter 2:
“. . . This carpenter’s son from Galilee challenges every existing political movement to a radical rethinking and dares everyone to imagine and consider his revolutionary alternative.” That alternative is the kingdom of God, and “if you’re part of this kingdom, you won’t be blindly patriotic and compliant, . . . instead you’ll be willing to confront injustice, even at the cost of your life. You won’t nestle snugly into the status quo, but you’ll seek to undermine the way things are to welcome the way things could and should be” (p. 17-18).
Secret Message placed the message of Jesus uncomfortably close to my real life. I was reminded again that the gospel isn’t a museum where we look at what is presented and say “ooo” and “ahhh.” Instead, it is a living word, moving through our veins to transform us.
(Part 3 of 3 coming on Sunday…)