The Red Couch: The Secret Message of Jesus Discussion

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M_BOOKCLUB3
To learn more about The Secret Message of Jesus, please read the introductory post. Don’t forget to peruse The Nightstand, which has resources for those wanting to explore the topic further.

Reading these books together as a community, it feels like the book is driving around with me to softball games twice a week and soccer practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays and all kinds of games and tournaments on the weekend. It sits in the passenger seat of my consciousness and drives along. It speaks to me as I stirfry a giant wok full of udon noodles or when the kids get into a kerfuffle.

The book becomes a passenger, a companion, a teacher and a lawyer. It asks me questions. It reminds me of what I already know. It provokes me to think deeper. Sometimes it opens a gate and invites me into brand new territory.

With Brian McLaren’s The Secret Message of Jesus: Uncovering the Truth That Could Change Everything, I felt a compelling invitation to make the Kingdom of God my daily lens. We know this. I knew this. But this book on the passenger seat of my life was a beautiful mindfulness to be a daily participant in the Kingdom of God now. To be part of inviting it in. To be part of choosing differently.

The Kingdom of God is such a beautiful, expansive invitation to a different way of living and thinking and doing.

With this book, my mind would often hook onto a sentence and I chewed on it all the way to the grocery store. Or on a long walk.

Sentences like this one:

“We are under a gentle, compassionate assault by a kingdom of peace and healing and forgiveness and life.”

Glory.

I felt more attuned to the ways of the Kingdom of God. My eyes felt open and my heart alert to the ways the kingdom of God infiltrates my daily life. Laying down my power, rather than lording over my kids. Choosing meek rather than over-extended, poor in spirit, rather than an incurable know-it-all. Coming to the table in humility, rather than anger.

When emotions flare and hearts get heated, the Kingdom of God is an invitation to respond in the opposite spirit. Always.

The Secret Message of Jesus felt like a kind and wise companion. It didn’t shatter any paradigms necessarily, but it felt like an important reminder. A faithful remembering of why we are here and how I want to live. Following Jesus? Then put on this seatbelt.

It did ask me this question: What feels impossible right now?

McLaren writes that experiences of the Kingdom of God help “liberate us from the tyranny of the impossible.” That tyranny of the impossible simply refers to those situations or relationships or structures we find “impossible.”

He says when everyone “knows” something is impossible, nobody even attempts it. Things like: Racism. Structural injustice. Poverty. A drug addiction. A school with chronic underachievement. A frail marriage.

So I asked myself this question: What feels impossible now?

I am one of great hope. I’ve seen the impossible shift and open up into the very thing we never imagined possible. But I’ll be honest: What feels impossible to me right now is the division in our North American church community.

The scathing words flying about on Twitter. Nasty blog posts and opinions so divided. I try to imagine the parties sitting together at a table and it’s hard. And then I think: But don’t we believe in the Kingdom of God together?

Because I come out of the story of Apartheid—a story of separateness—I am wild for unity. I ache and long for it, because I yearn for this expression of the heart of God.

I’ve often wondered what it would take for us—followers of Jesus—to walk in unity? What would it take for us to lay down our differences and sit together at the table or work side by side?

I imagine the only possible answer would be this: something so urgent, so impossible and so threatening to the very basic things we believe, that we would NEED to work together.

Meanwhile, I would sometimes hop onto a website that holds very different opinions from the ones I do and I would pray for the writers, the editors, the community. Not to change or to find enlightenment, but for my heart to love. I imagine us sitting at a table together and I am reminded, She loves Jesus. He loves Jesus. Yes, we do.

The Kingdom of God needs to break through in me, first. I can invite the Kingdom of God into my simple, small choices and how I love.

McLaren writes: “But when the Kingdom of God comes near, when we experience it, the word impossible deconstructs. It melts and evaporates, and its tyranny over us ends.”

May it be so.

______________

I’m curious:

  • How has the Secret Message of Jesus worked its way through you this month?
  • What feels impossible to you right now?
  • How have you experienced the Kingdom of God?
  • Did you find yourself more mindful?
  • What questions did this book ask of you?

REMINDER:

Our June book is Embracing The Body: Finding God In Our Flesh and Bone by Tara Owens. Come back next Wednesday June 3 for the introduction to the book. On Friday June 12 we will host a live chat with Tara in our Red Couch Facebook group. The discussion post will be Wednesday June 24.

Disclosure: Amazon Affiliate links included in this post.  If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site.

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Idelette McVicker
I like soggy cereal and I would like to go to every spot on the map of the earth to meet our world’s women. I dream of a world where no women or girls are for sale. I dream of a world where women and men are partners in doing the work that brings down a new Heaven on earth. My word last year was “roar” and I learned it’s not about my voice rising as much as it is about our collective voices rising in unison to bring down walls of injustice. This year, my own word is “soar.” I have three children and this place–right here, called shelovesmagazine.com–is my fourth baby. I am African, although my skin colour doesn’t tell you that story. I am also a little bit Chinese, because my heart lives there amongst the tall skyscrapers of Taipei and the mountains of Chiufen. Give me sweet chai and I think I’m in heaven. I live in Vancouver, Canada and I pledged my heart to Scott 11 years ago. I believe in kindness and calling out the song in each other’s hearts. I also believe that Love covers–my gaps, my mistakes and the distances between us. I blog at idelette.com and tweet @idelette.
Idelette McVicker

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Idelette McVicker
  • Idelette – this post is AMAZING! Seriously, I love it. My schedule has gotten crazy this past month, and I haven’t finished the book, but you so perfectly mine the beautiful truth in these pages. (I’ve been carrying around Tara Owen’s book this same way all month). THANK YOU for this post. SO many things feel impossible to me right now – my infertility & weight loss struggles, longing for community and looking for work – thank you for bringing me back to Jesus’ simple truth, when I falter and fall into anxiety and worry. And THIS sentence: “But this book on the passenger seat of my life was a beautiful mindfulness to be a daily participant in the Kingdom of God now. To be part of inviting it in. To be part of choosing differently.” GLORY! YES AND AMEN.

  • Sandy Hay

    I always look forward with great anticipation to your writings Idelette. 🙂 “The Kingdom of God needs to break through in me, first. I can invite the Kingdom of God into my simple, small choices and how I love.” Oh YES!!!!! It has to start with us.

    My favorite authors are ones that put into words, ideas that have been rolling around in my head without a place to land. I keep thinking something similar to this all month. I am such an information person that I forget that so much of my reading is actually transforming me . I’ve become so much more mindful of my world, in seeing and hearing God in the small bits of my day. a simplistic looking…and that’s what’s drawing me forward to want more. It’s a thirstiness, a longing.

    A sentence that jumped at me on page 169. Brian is writing about paradoxes: “to be truly inclusive, the kingdom must exclude exclusive people…The kingdom of God has a purpose and that purpose is not everyone’s cup of tea.” This hits close to home for me..people who refuse reconciliation. This is hard for me. I don’t want people to not want reconciliation.

    And “If Jesus had never lived, we would not have been able to invent him.We would have tried wouldn’t we;)

    Thank you for leading out for/with us….all the shelovelys of this generation, no matter what our age.

  • Love this post! I tried reading along this month, but am in the midst of Zealot and just had too much trouble switching back and forth… (But, wow! Zealot is amazing!!) Something I love about McLaren in general, and that you highlight here is the need to stop and make room for all. And, not just all Christians, but ALL. I’m learning more and more about what this really means – about how to be a Christ-follower and lovingly, graciously, purposefully make room for ALL.