Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Book Review: One.Life

Are you a young person, trying to make sense of where your life fits into the larger scheme of this world? Are you out of college, hoping your life will mean something, and not just disappear into the haze of meaningless that is our culture? Have you hit middle age, and find yourself feeling like "there must be more to life than this?"

If so, then Scot McKnight's One.Life is the book for you.

It is McKnight's intention that life is supposed to be more than the humdrum of mindless entertainment, empty pleasure, vacuous reality-show stories, accumulation of stuff, boredom, disappointment, silly fights with friends, and all those other things we fill our lives with. Instead, we are given one life to live, and called into a glorious adventure of love, service, compassion, meaning, and world-changing work.

However, that can only happen when people truly and fully give their lives over to Jesus, letting Jesus lead, following his dreams, surrendering everything to his lordship. In McKnight's words,

Christianity isn't enough. Religion isn't enough. Being accepted in a church isn't enough. Climbing the corporate ladder isn't enough. Solving intellectual problems isn't enough. Chasing the American dream isn't enough. Friends aren't enough. Science isn't enough. Food and drink aren't enough. Fame isn't enough. Nothing's enough. The only thing that is enough is Jesus, and the only way to get to Jesus is to follow him, and that means one thing: giving your One.Life to him and following his dream.

McKnight makes clear that he is redefining a common misunderstanding of Christianity; namely, that following Christ is about making a one-time decision, and then spending the rest of our lives trying to follow a bunch of rules. Instead, the author slowly builds up his central theme, which is that followers of Jesus follow Jesus, devoting their lives to the Kingdom vision of Jesus.

The earlier part of One.Life is spent sketching this vision of discipleship even as he defines what, exactly, the Kingdom Vision of Jesus is (think peace, compassion, justice, and wisdom). In the latter chapters of the book, McKnight addresses some of the specific issues and contexts with which people struggle - why is the Church important? What does the Kingdom have to do with sex? How do I follow Jesus in a 'secular' job? Finally, the last few chapters are given to exploring God's Kingdom in light of eternity, God's nature, and the work of Jesus at the cross.

One.Life is a powerful book that is also accessible, fairly easy to read yet full of profound insight. There is so much confusion in the world about what it means to be a Christian (and let's be honest: to many, 'Christian' is not a good word). McKnight has offered a positive, hopeful, meaningful vision for what life can and should be, a life that finds its meaning simply by following Christ through the ordinary moments as they come.

Thanks to Zondervan for offering One.Life as a free gift to Ministers in the Evangelical Covenant Church at our Midwinter Conference.

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