It’s unlikely that you are the intended reader of Scot McKnight’s latest book, One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read it. Who is the book for? While he never says it, the presence of the hundreds of undergraduate students- Christian and not- he has taught over the years lurk in every chapter. Scot’s care for these students and their questions, concerns, and complaints about Christianity seem to me the driving force behind the content and passion in these pages.
Scot describes One.Life as an overview of “how Jesus understand the Christian life,” one meant to connect with young people who care little for Christianity but who remain intrigued by Jesus. The chapters are divided by topics and attributes that slowly bring into focus a definition of a life devoted to Jesus. The strength of this book is how discipleship is never isolated from Jesus. Scot doesn’t shy away from the way Christians believe challenging things- the reality of hell for example- or live in difficult ways- money and sex are seen in counter-cultural ways. But unlike some books that attempt to portray the radical edge of Christianity, Scot ties all of these beliefs and practices to the reality of Jesus who makes such a life possible and reasonable.
Reading this book I was glad that Scot included his own story of growing up within a distinct branch of Christianity. His was a tribe that prioritized individual conversion and separatist piety. Certainly there will be plenty of readers, young and old, who will identify with this experience. For those of us without that same strong memory there are a few moments in the book that could feel reactionary. But One.Life is a gracious book and regardless of our backgrounds the wide expanse of Christianity as portrayed by the author invites further exploration.
So if this book wasn’t written primarily for you, then why read it? First, you will hear questions being asked by a younger generation from someone who spends much of his time on the receiving end of those questions. Second, like the author you may have been handed a vision of Christianity that is too small or that contains far too little of Jesus. Third, Scot’s conviction that Jesus actually changes lives is a reminder we cannot hear enough of.
One last reason, for what it’s worth: a story from the book made it into my sermon a couple of weeks ago as a poignant example of the way Jesus subverts our religious instincts. For that reason alone I’m glad to have read this book and happy to recommend it to you.
I was sent a copy of this book by the author to review.