In “This Beautiful Mess: Practicing the Presence of the Kingdom of God” ((Multnomah Books, 2006, 2013) Rick McKinley shares lessons he has learned about living the Kingdom of God. Although he has enough lessons for this and at least one more book, he also shares lessons from some of the other members of his community: Imago Dei, in Portland, Oregon.
The journey that McKinley envisions for his readers contains 3 distinct legs: discovering the Kingdom, Re-visioning life in the Kingdom, and then practicing the presence of that Kingdom. But this is not just s book full of theoretical examples; this is a portrait of life in the trenches. This book is full of examples of people looking at scripture and finding ways to apply it in their own lives to make a difference for the Kingdom of God. It’s people like Dan and Lynn and ‘Blanket Coverage’ or Kindra and Heather who ‘adopted’ a rehab center and showed the women there what God's love looks like in practical ways. (see chapter 8)
‘This Beautiful Mess’ is a lot like ‘Jesus in the Margins’ another book by this author. McKinley doesn’t try to paint the picture that life was crap, I found Jesus and now everything in wonderful. He reminds us that Jesus called his followers to pick up their crosses, to be salt and light, and above all to go into the world sharing the gospel.
It’s that part about ‘go’ that he addresses here. We’re reminded that the world isn’t always a pretty place; that’s there’s dirt, pain, poverty and disease, hurting and hungry people, disenfranchised and marginalized, and Jesus is standing right there with them, waiting to see what we’re willing to do for the ‘least of these.’
This is not an easy book to read, not because of the writing style, the vocabulary, or the deep theological discussions. It’s hard to read because it reminds us that if we get honest with ourselves we might have to recognize that our words and our actions don’t always match – and when it comes to caring for those who need it most, they should.
Highly recommended for anyone who is willing to explore this beautiful mess we call the Kingdom, and is interested in learning how to live within it!