Practicing the Way of Jesus

This week saw the release of Mark Scandrette’s new book, Practicing the Way of Jesus: Life Together in the Kingdom of Love. The book is an invitation to a more robust life of discipleship in response to the invitation of Jesus come and follow.

One of Mark’s favorite metaphors is the contrast between a college lecture hall and a karate dojo. He contends that we have made Christianity too much like the former, a place of passive reception, whereas Jesus calls us to a life of active following and doing.

This book is an invitation to a transformed life. It is an invitation to join with others in stripping off the veneer of Jesus that we’ve slapped up over our American consumerist lives in order to truly seek justice, more radically give to the poor, faithfully participate with God as co-creators in this world.

I don’t like these kinds of calls.

Honestly, there’s a reason that I am a professor: lecture hall Christianity is very comfortable for me. And Mark Scandrette reminds me that Jesus did not call me, did not form a community of followers, for the ultimate purpose of sitting and learning a bunch of facts and ideas.

The facts and ideas are to be part of the catalyst for the disciple’s participation in the hope for which we pray: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth.”

Mark Scandrette sets the stage in part one the book by talking through the value of practice. And in the second part he gives some guidelines for creating experiments for your community. This guidance stems from several years of putting on such experiments with reImagine in San Francisco. The stories and guidelines are readable, humble examples of how the process of experimenting is open to both success and failure, with both outcomes opening doors for understanding better what it means to follow Jesus in our world.

If you’re ready to be made uncomfortable, if you’re ready to be drawn out of the everyday life of doing so as to take care of yourself into the world of doing for others, then get this book–not merely to read it, but to experiment with your friends.

In accordance with Federal regulations, I hereby inform you, the reader of this book review, that I fully anticipate getting a free copy of this book from the publisher. I’m also friends with Mark. You could take this as an indication that the book review would have been positive no matter what; or, you could take note of the fact that I think highly enough of what he’s doing to partner with him in some things, including the Theology Hub podcast, which should have a new episode appearing next week. So really, you can take this review with a grain of salt if you want to, but I do actually think that this book, if put into practice, has powerful potential to transform the way that you think about following Jesus.

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