A Gospel Takeover

MY FIRST YEAR at North Park University, I took Scot McKnight’s class, “Jesus of Nazareth.” It would have been a whole lot easier if he had just lectured and given tests. But he also challenged us to take Jesus seriously by actually trying to live like him and follow his teachings. This is why McKnight is one of the people I blame for what happened next.

McKnight talked the entire semester about “table fellowship.” Who Jesus ate with was significant. It was one of the ways he broke down barriers and modeled for his disciples the kingdom of God. So the next year when Thanksgiving rolled around and plane tickets home were too expensive, I threw a party at my campus apartment. A friend and I got donations from a local food bank and borrowed a school van under false pretenses (McKnight didn’t teach me that part). We picked up 15 people who were living on the streets of downtown Chicago, brought them back to my apartment, and celebrated Thanksgiving. We watched football, ate until 1 a.m., and everyone spent the night.

It is with this cautionary tale in mind that I commend to you McKnight’s most recent book, One.Life. No author is quite as dangerous as the one who can actually convince the reader to take Jesus seriously.

In One.Life McKnight tries to answer the very basic question, “What is a Christian?” His own answer used to be, “A Christian is someone who has accepted Jesus; and the Christian life focuses on personal practices of piety.” But, he argues, that answer is far too limited and entirely off focus. Jesus didn’t want to be “accepted” into anyone’s life; rather, “he wanted to take over.” So the answer to “What is a Christian?” is far simpler and much harder: A Christian is someone who follows Jesus.

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