This is a quick journal entry about a book I just finished by Scot McKnight…the thoughts that follow are not all found in this book, but my additions are for my sake to clarify and clear my thoughts and coalesce my ideas in this area with these new ideas.
The Jesus Creed, loving God and loving others. This book speaks of Jesus reshaping the Shema prayer around himself. The shema prayer was a popular prayer from that day, derived from Deuteronomy 6:4-9 , it basically says that the Lord God is one and that you should love him with all your heart, soul, and mind. Jesus knows this prayer along with those around in that day and Jesus basically reshapes and wraps it around himself, saying he is this God. Paul expands the Shema prayer further by declaring that loving Jesus is loving God…but Jesus does not stop there, he takes this prayer and command and expands it further to loving others…seems the Israelites though majority of the time did not keep the command of loving God, did sometimes astonishingly keep it. But Jesus declares that they are to love others too, a difficult statement to hear and heed to. As was popular in that day of age, the Israelites saw themselves as the chosen people, and all others were filthy and dirty, who were beneath them. Part of this shema prayer connected with the Kaddish, which desired to see God’s kingdom set up in their day, was tied into restoration. As part of this restoration, also known as resurrection (NT Wright), they would finally be restored and their enemies defeated. These enemies would be precisely who they are to love…something that would be a great difficult task to carry out, especially for those who were zealots who loved to fight…this idea would reshape their theology and their understanding of what the Messiah would do. Though Israel and the disciples never came to full realization of this until they saw the resurrected Christ, where they would eventually carry out this reshaped Shema prayer of loving others.
The book continues on to further our understanding of this creed, and another aspect of this creed that stood out to me was that of forgiveness. To be a disciple of Jesus further means we need to forgive one another, completely. For if you cannot forgive someone, you truly cannot love them. And therefore cannot love God, for you do not love others.
This creed is not a simple one, its not an act of sheer words and mind change, but involves all of you; heart, soul, and mind. We are to love others as oursleves, as the story of the good Samaritan goes…the Israelites who were obeying the law, staying away from the dead and unclean, were not getting the whole picture. Jesus broke so many taboos, and sacred traditions, not in rebellion, but to break past the religious empty practices of cleaning the outside of the cup when the inside is dirty (Mark 7). So, the good Samaritan becomes one who is following God by loving others. Where the Priest and Levite leave the man in his state in fear of being seen and being unclean. Though they believe they are loving God by obeying the law, they are in fact disobeying him. The Jesus creed is not just ritual, but ultimately involves all of you.
The Jesus creed therefore is a well written book, and I have only touched on a succinct amount. I would suggest it is a good read for a new believer, and those who are looking to comprehend what discipleship really means should give it a look. Scot McKnight is becoming one of my newfound favorite authors and I am looking forward to journeying on with many more of his books.