Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Love the Lord you God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
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.
This is a series of reflections on Scot McKnight’s book, The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others. It’s a book I unequivocally recommend for anyone. Each chapter opens with recommended Gospel readings. The readings for this chapter are: Mark 14:25; Matthew 25:31-46.
The bible gives us only an occasional glimpse of heaven.
That’s an important place to begin this chapter because it focuses on the perspective our eschatology gives us. However, Scot also connects the fact that our culture impacts our ‘idea’ of heaven at least as much as anything else. And that’s both accurate and a very important observation that is often missed.
I’m not going to delve into all the vagaries surrounding that point in this post. Scot touches on them, but does not dwell on them. His focus is on what Jesus teaches and what should be common to all of us.
Jesus teaches that heaven, or the eternal kingdom, begins with a judgement; that heaven is entered by the followers of Jesus; that heaven involves table fellowship between Abba and his people; and that heaven is magnificent in its glory, intensity, and splendor. In short, heaven begins with the judgement and then, once that is over, the whole place is decked out for eternal fellowship with God and others.
There really is a lot of exploration in this chapter, but I’ll skip to this.
The place to stand, the perspective it gives us, is this: The end is the beginning. That is, one’s view of the eternal (the end) gives one perspective in this life (our beginning each day). The most potent incentive to spiritual formation is to see the end of history, to ponder God’s eternity, and to realize that this end shapes our beginning each day. So, in the words of Thomas a Kempis, ‘Practice now what you’ll have to put into practice then.’
Scot then builds a case against reading scripture purely for information. And his case is a powerful one. It merges, for me, with Willard’s words about bible study in Spirit of the Disciplines. We should read, meditate upon, study, and otherwise use scripture not for information but for formation. It helps us little to learn about love. We need to love. That is a distinction always worth keeping in mind.
This concludes the part on the society the Jesus Creed forms. Mcknight moves next to living the Jesus Creed.