July 19, 2011

Rick McKinley, A Kingdom Called Desire

In A Kingdom Called Desire, pastor Rick McKinley takes a look at the life of discipleship to Jesus through the lens of desire.In a culture keyed in on finding the thing that will make us the most happy, McKinley calls us to carefully search out our desires, first because God in fact created them, and second, so we can honestly face up to the question of whether we do in fact desire God the most. And it is in the latter, the deep and true desire for God, that McKinley develops his picture of kingdom living. And part of this involves recognizing honestly the desires God has placed within us and recognizing and developing the God-given desire for him that rests beneath them. In a key chapter, "Life and Death," McKinley gets to the heart of what this transformation of desire entails, as he reflects on the need to face our own mortality, and as we do this, to learn to cling to the cross. "I wanted to cling to one part of the gospel: his death for me. I don't want to grapple with the implications of my death in him" (53). Instead of making our own lives into idols, we must come to grips with our own death in Christ, and our new life as Christ lives in us. It is then that we learn to focus on Jesus and desire him and the coming of his kingdom. And key to this new life is that we no longer act out of duty, of a need to produce the life God can appreciate or that can make us worthy before God, we are no longer seeking to do the right thing to avoid negative consequences, but are instead living into the life God has for us, and sin begins to loose its attraction for us. This transformation of life then begins to work itself out in our lives as we begin to recognize the God-given desires that are unique to us, and we see the way God has made us to be, allowing us to seek out things that are God-glorifying and are at the same time fitting to the way God has made us to be, a deep freedom to become who God made us to be in him.

McKinley's book has a nice conversational quality that keeps it from becoming either too academic or to preachy. He also takes an honest tone that gives credibility to his discussion. And I found his discussion of the concept of desire to be overall a helpful one, as I think finding our fulfillment through the realization of our own personal desires is a key idea in our culture today, but also has some potential as an entry point for reimagining our relationship to God. The danger, of course, is of making the gospel a self-help program or a path to personal fulfillment, though I think McKinley is aware of these dangers and steers mostly clear of them. I may quibble with a few points, but overall found his approach to have some merit. I especially appreciated his call to honestly investigate our desires, to see if we truly are desiring God or if we are merely paying lip service to our faith. IN all, this book has some good things to say to those who want to desire God and live for him.  

Thanks to the publisher and Amazon.com Vine program for the review copy.

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