Scot McKnight on living out Jesus’ kingdom vision

I wrote this book for people who really do think a Christian is someone who follows Jesus and for those who want to focus once again on what Jesus meant when he said, “Come follow me.” Perhaps you are wondering how you can live out your One.Life for the Kingdom.Life as a Cross.Life. I want to make five brief suggestions:

First, talk to God constantly by worshiping God and by seeking God’s will and by interceding for others. Prayer is the way to die to our own wishes and surrender everything to God. We die to what makes sense at times by trusting that God, who is invisible, both wants us to pray and hears us. Jesus prayed often; so can we.

Second, listen to God constantly. Jesus, and all his followers, have learned to listen to and for God’s voice in these two ways: by reading the Bible—and by that I mean from cover to cover and not just in snippets of verses—and listening to what God says to us as we read the Bible. Furthermore, in prayer sometimes God speaks to us—what my pastor calls “promptings”—and sometimes we just know that God has spoken and we are to do something about it. Learning to listen to God means learning to die to our voices and the voices of others. Listen for the roar of the Lamb-Who-Is-Lion.

Third, commit to kingdom work locally by asking God’s Spirit to empower you and by entering into fellowship with others who follow Jesus in that same Spirit. That local fellowship of followers of Jesus is a church—and whether it’s a megachurch or a house church, a denomination or an organic church doesn’t matter. A fundamental point that is found everywhere in the New Testament is that Jesus’ kingdom is to be embodied in a church of ordinary people—just like you and me—who celebrate the Lord’s Supper, who follow the Lord’s way together, and who embody the kingdom life as much as they can. This is the primary location for our kingdom work. Devoting ourselves to a local fellowship means we have died to our plans and our own way of doing things.

Fourth, to keep Jesus’ kingdom vision in front of you at every moment, I suggest you recite daily the Jesus Creed of loving God and loving others (below) and the Lord’s Prayer…:

Hear, O Israel:
The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul
and with all your mind
and with all your strength.

The second is this:

Love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no commandment greater than these.

Fifth, don’t be afraid to tell others about the kingdom vision of Jesus. Telling others about Jesus means we have to die to telling others about ourselves all the time. All the early followers of Jesus  called this telling the story of Jesus “evangelism,” but what they meant by that was not haranguing people or scaring people or condemning people but very simply telling them about Jesus and his kingdom vision. It means telling them about the life of Jesus, the teachings of Jesus, the cross of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus, and Jesus’ sending of the Spirit at Pentecost to make us the people God wants us to be.

….And…something Jesus gave to you and to me to recite daily to to remind ourselves of his kingdom dream: The Lord’s Prayer.

Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.

Scot McKnight, One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow, 193-195

prayer for the third Sunday after Pentecost

O God, from whom all good proceeds: Grant that by your inspiration we may think those things that are right, and by your merciful guiding may do them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer