I am combining chapters four, five, and six, because I haven't had time to keep up with it all. In chapter four Mclaren talks about the revolutionary nature of Jesus message. Mclaren talks about how Jesus message is revolutionary because it addresses and is concerned about the poor, children, and the outcast. He also asserts that "Violent revolutions...aren't revolutionary. Noisy regime changes are utterly predictable--brought about by displays of power and hollow promises and indomitable wealth."...while the message of Jesus, by contrast may be called the most revolutionary.....because...."The radical revolutionary empire of God is here, advancing by reconciliation and peace, expanding by faith, hope, and love---beginning with the poorest, the weakest, the meekest, and the least"...While I am on board with the advancement of the kingdom via reconciliation and peace I am not sure to what degree the "radical revolutionary empire of God is here", now. As I look across the religious landscape in America today I am not particularly optimistic regarding how many folks "really" believe peace is the way of reconciliation and advancement of the Kingdom of God. Many, if not the majority of Christians might believe that reconciliation with God is achieved via peaceful means, by accepting Christ as Savior, but I am not convinced they believe reconciliation with each other or with our enemies can be achieved through peaceful means. And, it is important to remember that reconciliation with God was not achieved peacefully but rather through the death of Jesus by means of crucifixion which is one of the most violent and barbaric practices ever.
In chapter six Mclaren about Jesus use of parables. Mclaren states that "Parables
entice their hearers into new territory...and...they invite the listener to ask questions...and...have the power to transform the hearer into interactive, interdependent,humble,inquisitive, and persistent people"....Regarding why Jesus spoke in parables Mclaren says, "Because his message wasn't merely aimed at conveying information. It sought to precipitate something more important: the spiritual transformation of it's hearers."...and...according to Mclaren Jesus hid the "explicit" truth so that "we simply wouldn't hear with our ears or read with our eyes on a literal level: we must invest ourselves in an imaginative search for meaning---a meaning that will surprise us when we discover it for ourselves"....I think Mclaren is onto something regarding Jesus desire for us to explore the meaning of life
ourselves with an imaginative, inquisitive and persistent spirit. For many years I relied too much on the opinions, experiences, and authority of others regarding the meaning/purpose of life, morality, and how life "ought" to be lived in general. I don't mean to imply that one should not listen intently to the thoughts and experiences of others but at some point one needs to take ownership of his or her own life and embrace one's own thoughts, experiences, intuition, and the "spirit" that resides in us all....otherwise....one will be simply living out the hopes, dreams,values, and passions of others and I sincerely don't believe that is God's intention for anyone....Over the past six months I have also become more aware of the need for imagination in our lives. We tend to associate imagination with the arts but I believe imagination is something that can be applied to every aspect of our lives....politics, child rearing, our jobs, problem solving, and our love making...but...imagination is squelched or non existent whenever we simply defer to the authority and experiences of others....I also appreciated Mclaren's comment about hearing and reading beyond the literal. For some time now I have felt that the teachings and life of Jesus were intended to inspire his followers and future generations to live a life of faith to God as Jesus did. The Bible exhorts us to follow Jesus but we have to work out our own salvation with imagination in our own way in the context of the 21st century. To me, that means we have a responsibility to forge our own path with the gifts and callings we have which means my life won't look the same as others but that is O.K. because I don't think God ever intended us to be religious zombies who simply follow the marching orders of others no matter what titles or intelligence they may possess.....