Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Missional Jesus 7

posted by xscot mcknight

Missional Jesus not only drew a crowd, he summoned people to get with the kingdom mission and vision. In other words, he called people to “make a decision” or, what is better, to come to him and with him work for the kingdom of God.
The Sermon on the Mount, the most significant sermon ever preached, comes to a flourishing finish with a parable-like story that simultaneously reveals and summons people to follow Jesus. To follow Jesus means to get attached to him personally, to spend time with Jesus, and to participate with him in the mission of God: the kingdom of God.
1. Missional Jesus simply doesn’t think everyone wants to follow him; in fact, he thinks many don’t.
2. Missional Jesus warns about false prophets — who are known by “fruit”. Most everyone agrees that fruit is a metaphor for living before God with love and peace and justice and holiness and goodness, etc.. And this fruit grows because the life inside the tree is the life of God. Those who are most severely criticized by Jesus are those who say they are religious authorities but actually work evil. (Such living blatant contradictions, and who doesn’t fear this for himself or herself, make the next generation suspicious.)
3. Missional Jesus summons people to do the will of God. In other words, the Sermon on the Mount is a sermon whose intent is to enlist will-of-God-doers.
The Narrow and Wide Gates
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
A Tree and Its Fruit
15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
The Wise and Foolish Builders
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”



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michael

posted June 26, 2007 at 6:51 am


i love matthew 7.
i like point 1 in not thinking everyone wants to be on board. on point 2, do you feel religious authorities always have overt acts of evil or is it also self-righteousness?



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Scot McKnight

posted June 26, 2007 at 7:13 am


Well, Michael of the lower case, Jesus calls them “workers of iniquity” — or “evildoers” — and I doubt that can be restricted simply to self-righteousness cloaked in good deeds. But, some maintain that, since they are prophets and miracle workers, it is all internal.



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Diane

posted June 26, 2007 at 7:41 am


I like point one too. If Jesus was able to live with people making their own choices, we need to be too. I like this series as it underlines that Jesus really lays it on the line harder than anyone else.
I always think of fruits as products, what comes out of the good tree of living before God with love and peace, something tangible people can consume, which ties the image back to communion, that ultimately we’re supposed to be food others can eat … but probably we’re saying the same thing. I suppose the idea is that fruits come naturally, without us having to make ourselves crazy trying to convert the whole world, solve world hunger and make life bearable for every other person, etc. singlehandedly.



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Heather

posted June 26, 2007 at 8:10 am


Great post, Scot! I love this series.
This passage was always a little scary for me (esp. v.21)–I grew up in a church where anyone even suggesting that Christians might actually have to do anything besides “asking Jesus into their hearts” was glared at. And yet here it is. This passage makes me wonder if there’s not more to salvation than faith. But then Paul is so adamant about that point, salvation not being by works. I guess we need both? Or that these good works are the “fruit” of our faith in Jesus? I don’t know if I’m making any sense, but it’s definitely something I’ve been thinking about, and I’d welcome any thoughts.



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Scot McKnight

posted June 26, 2007 at 8:16 am


Heather,
Your question is a good one, an old one, and one that can’t seem to find a clear answer. The standard Christian answer is this: we are saved by grace through faith, but any kind of grace-creating saving faith results in transformation. So, I think Calvin once said that no one is saved by works, but neither is anyone saved without them. And, in fact, all judgment scenes are judgments by works because the works are the evidence of the faith.



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John W Frye

posted June 26, 2007 at 8:33 am


Scot,
I, too, think point 1 is worth probing because the reduced, marketable “gospel” of USAmerican evangelicalism assumes EVERYONE wants the “good deal” of eternal life. If they don’t, its our fault for not marketing it correctly.
We laugh at the used car salesmen ads on TV and yet don’t hear the world laughing at our “pitch” to get them saved.
I think the gospel is subversive and deeply appealing at a level that does not need our advertising. We announced it joyfully and live it communally and watch the living Presence of Jesus continue to arouse a curiosity that may lead to faith, a decision.



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Scott M

posted June 26, 2007 at 10:47 am


Heather, I would add a bit to Scot’s reply. Especially in the last couple of hundred years or so, we have developed ideas about this tricky thing called “belief” that are very different from what the words meant in the world of Jesus and Paul. We have reduced it to something like intellectual assent to a proposition and divorced it from our actions.
And that’s crazy.
We have extrabiblical sources for the phrase Jesus used a lot: “Repent and believe in me.” The closest in time is probably Josephus. And from those sources, we can see the phrase clearly meant two things. “Repent” meant give up your way of doing whatever was the topic of the conversation. And “believe in me” meant take up the way of doing it proposed by the speaker. So when Josephus went to speak to the leader of the brigand rebels and told him to “Repent and believe in me,” he was telling the rebel to give up his way of dealing with Rome (rebellion) and take up Josephus’ way. (As Josephus was a member of the aristocracy, that was basically the route of appeasement and pacification.)
Jesus of Nazareth, however, was talking about how we do life. Our way of doing life leads to death. He tells us to give up our way of doing life. And by invoking the image of the cross — take up your cross and follow me — he is powerfully telling us to put it to death. And then place our confidence in his way of doing life — as the true human being. And if we do that, we will receive life that endures.
Faith is then the process of placing our confidence in Jesus, believing that he is truly who he said he was, and through the grace he provides in abundance through the Spirit, taking up his way. If we do so, we are assured in the present that in the final judgement on the basis of our works, Jesus will take care of us.
That’s my understanding in a nutshell and I find that rather than trying to answer the question the way it is typically phrased today, it renders it moot. And judging by such encounters as the thief on the cross and one of my own (probably incorrect) interpretations of the parable of the vineyard owner who ended up paying all his laborers the same, the time we have in the present to take up Jesus’ way seems to be less important than the fact that we do for whatever time we have.



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ChrisB

posted June 26, 2007 at 10:59 am


Heather, I’m not sure if this is a direct quote, but I like the phrasing: We are saved by faith alone, but faith that saves is never alone.
Diane: “If Jesus was able to live with people making their own choices, we need to be too.”
Just as long as you realize that those who make their own choices are on the “road that leads to destruction.” I believe that God believes in freedom of religion; that does not mean, however, that your choices don’t have consequences.



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Mike

posted June 26, 2007 at 11:38 am


Scot,
This series just keeps gaining traction in my life!
During a family crisis, a good friend lent me a NT, and I read it over and over for about two years. And, initially, my questions were surrounding the issue of the what-happens-after-you-die. But, that one gets plenty of easy answers, depending upon who the audience is!!!
But, I kept on returning to Mt. 7:24-27. I kept on thinking, who is this Jesus, and he sure does have a unique handle on being alive-really alive-and that kind of construction project sounds and feels like life. And, that crystallization contributed to my becoming a follower of Jesus.
And, simultaneously, I always knew that the people Jesus was inviting to be part of his construction project were what we now label as missional: or, as you put it, enlisted as will-of-God-doers. Lots of joy in receiving his invitation, no?
And, in contrast, I’ve always wondered why some folks, especially those who came before me into his life, don’t live missionally. Not a critique, please: but, I’ve since observed plenty of settings, experiences, relationships, and oral histories to know that plenty of people don’t get Missional Jesus. Judging by comments here and elsewhere, I know I’m not the only one who has made the same observations…



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Heather

posted June 26, 2007 at 3:22 pm


Chris, Scott, and Scot,
Thank you so much for interpreting my rambling and offering your wisdom. What you all had to say makes a lot of sense, and I will continue to mull over this with your contributions in mind. God bless you all!



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Anonymous

posted June 26, 2007 at 7:37 pm


Quick Thought From Mr McKnight | TheGeoffRe(y)port

[…] Scott McKnight describing the Sermon on the Mount: “Jesus simply doesn’t think everyone wants to follow him; in fact, he thinks many don’t.” It’s obvious, and yet I don’t think I’ve ever heard it articulated before. Maybe this changes our instinct to try and “bludgeon” people into the kingdom who are quite certain that it’s not for them, and instead evangelise in a way more akin to offering truth rather than convicting sinners. Just a thought. […]



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Mariam

posted June 26, 2007 at 7:38 pm


Heather:
“This passage was always a little scary for me (esp. v.21)–I grew up in a church where anyone even suggesting that Christians might actually have to do anything besides “asking Jesus into their hearts” was glared at. And yet here it is. This passage makes me wonder if there’s not more to salvation than faith. But then Paul is so adamant about that point, salvation not being by works. I guess we need both? Or that these good works are the “fruit” of our faith in Jesus? I don’t know if I’m making any sense, but it’s definitely something I’ve been thinking about, and I’d welcome any thoughts.”
We might also add “By your fruits you will know yourself”. Does our “salvation” lead us to try and live in a compassionate and loving way? Does it lead us to help the needy, clothe the naked, feed the poor and bind up the broken-hearted? Does it lead us to give our money away to those more needy? Does it lead us to love and forgiveness and the inner peace that brings? If not, perhaps we should take another look at our “being saved”. Without faith all I am left with is myself stumbling around trying to do my best and inevitably failing. If I believe that Christ can work through me, if I believe that God wants to work through me in spite of my failings and mistakes, then the burden of being perfect is lifted from me. The reason we are saved by faith is that we are freed from the impossibility of always being right. If Christ is working through us we will love and trust and forgive, we will “do good anyway” – not something that comes naturally. I don’t believe either “getting saved” or following the rules to get into heaven is the point. The point is to live a Christ-like life so that we are in communion with God now.



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Calvin Wulf

posted June 29, 2007 at 2:52 pm


On point one, I believe that Jesus really means for his followers to live out his teachings and do the things that he did. We are to be a blessing in the world just as the Father blesses the whole world. Then we are truly building on the rock.
At His Mercy,
Calvin Wulf
http://blog.livingforgod.net



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