I chose to read Mckinley’s book This Beautiful Mess: Practicing the Presence of the Kingdom of God because it looked like it would be a good resource for a project I was beginning which was also on the topic of the kingdom of God. I received a free copy of the book from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in return for a review. It turned out not to be very useful in my project (they went in two separate directions) and, as so often happens, the book was lost amid the craziness of life and the messiness (no pun intended) of my laptop desktop.
When I finally did get around the reading the book, I found a good book but one that didn’t engage me until Part 3. Before getting to that, however, first a word about the author and the other two sections of the book.
Rick Mckinely is founding and Lead Pastor of the Imago Dei Community in Portland Oregon. He is the author of several other books including A Kingdom Called Desire, Jesus in the Margins and is the co-author of Advent Conspiracy. This Beautiful Mess is comprised of three parts: Discovering the Kingdom, Re-Visioning Life in the Kingdom and Practicing the Presence of the Kingdom.
Part 1 is rather introductory and outlines the definition of what the kingdom of God is and, perhaps more importantly, what the kingdom of God is not. Mckinley rightly notes that our tendency is to reduce the kingdom in one or more of these three ways. Either we “reduce” the kingdom to only the church, we “spiritualize” the kingdom and believe that it’s fully realized now, or we “postpone” the kingdom to solely heaven (32). In reality we live in the tension that the kingdom of God is all of these while not fully being all of these.
Part 2 moves on to examine three of Jesus’ kingdom metaphors found in the New Testament gospels. For me, the major take away came in Part 3 of the book. One of themes within the third section is the simple truth that advancing the kingdom of God doesn’t happen in one big decision or one giant leap but it happens in the little, day-to-day decisions and actions we take as we see people in the same way that God sees them- as his child. The reader sees this especially within the little stories that Mckinely places within the book. The stories are simple: treating homeless kids as human beings, praying over an apartment complex and bringing food to a church member after a hospital stay. They are stories about how the kingdom advances through the little, sometimes messy, ways we show God to the people around us.
Overall, the This Beautiful Mess is a good book but I had a hard time interacting with material- and I’m not sure why. The church needs to hear the message Mckinley presents but it was hard for me to get into the book. I would recommend the book to others.