This Beautiful MessThis Beautiful Mess
Rick McKinley
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Jesus' sayings about the kingdom of God just might be the most overlooked of his teachings. Yet the Good News of the kingdom---a treasure beyond price---was what he came to preach. It's time to ask: What is the kingdom Jesus talked about? Could it already be here, hidden from sight? If so, where is it? How can I be a part of it? A new generation is tuning in to the teachings of Jesus and to their revolutionary implications. Could it be that living under Christ's reign is not merely a future vision but a present reality?

McKinley's exploration is fresh, accessible, and timely. With careful attention to historical texts, he unveils new understandings of authentic personal and social transformation. The time is now. Your opportunity is here. In the mess of everyday life, you can live in the beautiful presence of the kingdom.
     


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Christianbook.com: Why did you choose the title Jesus in the Margins, is this a book on reaching the marginalized?

Rick McKinley: I chose the title for two reasons. The first is that Jesus really came to this world and ministered to marginalized people. He himself was marginalized in many ways, by the religious people and by society in general. The second reason is that Jesus is very much marginalized by the church today, in that we donít always want to speak about the reality of Jesus awareness, compassion and mission to the marginalized people in the world as well as the marginalized places in our own lives that we donít like to talk about. This book is not about reaching marginalized people; it is really about letting Christ reach the places in our heart where we feel marginalized or where we have hidden ourselves from Christ love.

Christianbook.com: What inspired you to write the book?

Rick McKinley: A lot of comes from my journey and the journey of other people. So many people today see Gospel as irrelevant to their lives. They may be glad that Jesus forgives their sin, but find it difficult to re-imagine life through the lenses of his love. I wanted to write a book to help people see how the Gospel really redeems the deepest areas of their lives relationships. Jesus doesnít simply forgive us but he radically shapes how we understand life and the most important relationships to our being a person. So often those relationships have been damaged on the human level but Christ redeems the deeper meaning of those relationships, like Father and Child and home. I wanted people to see the hope that Jesus brings to areas of our lives that we have lost hope in or are trying to ignore.

Christianbook.com: In the book you talk about re-imagining life, why did you choose that phrase?

Rick McKinley: I chose the phrase to try and capture the power of what faith looks like when we apply it. People often fall into a rut of compartmentalizing their faith and have trouble integrating Jesus and his teaching into real life. In re-imagining life through the lenses of his love, Jesus is really calling us to anticipate a different future. Like, before I met my wife, I thought of life in a way that was pretty self-centered. Once we met and decided to marry, I anticipated my future completely differently because of this amazing relationship I had with her. I think that our relationship with Jesus should be like that, and perhaps in a much more powerful way.

Christianbook.com: What about your own story do we find in this book?

Rick McKinley: My own encounter with Christ was pretty amazing, as I came to Christ when I was 18 out of the party scene. I was really looking for meaning in life and trying to figure out what faith was all about and who God was. Christ basically led me to a church on Palm Sunday where I heard about his love and forgiveness and the freedom that he offered me through his death. That was the beginning of a whole new journey. I also struggled in finding my way in the church. I did not really fit in. As I studied the bible I realized that Jesus was really not afraid of people like me and my past. The church was just kind of uncomfortable with it. That created in me a desire to see the hundreds of people who think Jesus doesnít care about them to see that he really does and the frustration that they may feel in trying to connect with Jesus through the church should not detour their quest.

Christianbook.com: What types of people would benefit from reading this book?

Rick McKinley: I hope the book appeals to many different people. Some who may feel burned out on their faith will get a fresh look at a Jesus who is not afraid of the mess of their life and is ready to deal with the deeper places in their soul. Others who are not believers yet may find this book helpful as they seek to explore who Jesus is and what wants to do in their life. I think there is Church leaders as well who need to read it to understand how so many people in their church really feel and think when no one is looking. Overall I hope it encourages people to see Jesus in a more authentic light and their faith with a new hope.

Christianbook.com: What are the areas of our lives that Jesus wants us to re-imagine life in?

Rick McKinley: Jesus wants to redeem our whole person. So the areas are pretty exhaustive. The ones that I deal with in the book are the dominant areas that people tend to get hung up in. Jesus calls us to re-imagine life with God as our Father. That is tough one for so many people who have grown up without fathers, or with Dads who left an imprint of pain in their lives. Jesus does not ignore the issue, but instead introduces us to the perfect Father, his father. Other areas like, home, child, meaning and community are all areas that Jesus redeems us to re-imagine life in, with a redeemed understanding of how his life and love bring hope to those areas of our lives.

Christianbook.com: You say in your book that Jesus knew what it felt like to be marginalized. Tell me about that?

Rick McKinley: Jesus comes to earth in scandal if you see it through the eyes of the people around him. His mom is an unwed teenage girl, the people all talked about the illegitimate pregnancy. When he tells the people that he is the messiah who is fulfilling Isaiah 61, the people try to kill him. He did not really get the acceptance you would expect God to get. He lived as a homeless carpenter who wandered around loving and changing peopleís eternities. He was supported by women and ultimately died a criminalís death. In that day, so many of the things he did and the way he did them and who he did them to, were totally out of the norm for the culture. He knew what if felt like to be marginalized.

Christianbook.com: What is the hope of the book?

Rick McKinley: The hope of the book is pretty simple. People who feel like Jesus has simply just forgiven them and then left them to get their life together and earn his acceptance will find that Jesus is inviting them to experience his love in their whole person and they have nothing to hide from him.

Christianbook.com: Tell me about your church?

Rick McKinley: My wife and I started Imago Dei Community in October of 2000. We had about fifty people and began to ask God to forgive us for not loving the people he loved and to help us want to. God really answered our prayers and we began loving people around us and other people that were not really in our day to day pathway. It has been an incredible ride; we have seen God bring a lot of people into his love. We now have over 700 people meeting with us on Sundays, home communities that are like house churches that meet all over the city, and about 20 missional communities that are reaching out to the broken areas of the city. We work with several hundred people that donít come to church on Sunday and people show up week in and week out to show them what the love of Christ looks like. It is a fun group of mostly young urban people with amazing courage to take God at his word and pursue people in his love. It is really messy, but beautiful too.

Christianbook.com: Was planting the church the soil where you learned the message of Jesus in the Margins?

Rick McKinley: My own story started the process, but then seeing God change people over and over that were just like me, really sort of sealed this message in my heart. We see people who are Doctors and Lawyer sit next to people who are struggling with addiction who sit next to people who are artists who sit next to Theologians and Seminary Profs, and at the end of the day we are all coming to Christ with the same need for His grace and experiencing the same miracle of freedom through his life and love and forgiveness.

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