The Challenging Gospel of Peter
This year we are going to be journeying through the book, Following King Jesus by Scot McKnight and Becky Castle Miller. The book itself works through the McKnight's books King Jesus Gospel, The Blue Parakeet, One Life, and A Fellowship of Differents. The purpose of the book is to focus on following Jesus as a disciple. It can be done individually or in a group setting.
Our fourth week together and the focus is on the Apostle Peter.
Peter's gospel, we assumed, was going to be close to Paul's gospel. We were corrected. We found that a lot of the information was repetitive. There was the talk of Jesus' life, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension. For the most part, the information learned was not challenging.
However, the nuance added by Peter was his audience. We observed the different gospeling moments of Peter found in the Book of Acts. What we noticed was Peter's audience. McKnight highlights that the way Peter gospels to Jewish culture audience is different from his non-culturally Jewish audience. Peter's handling of the gospel showed us that we need to know the biblical story and know our audience. Peter chooses carefully which stories and what themes he will focus on depending on his audience. If it is his culturally Jewish audience, he may focus on the Moses stories coming to a resolution in Jesus. When talking to a non-culturally Jewish audience, Peter focuses on Abraham and the story of humanity finding resolution in Jesus' story.
Another thing that struck us was a question asked of the group. "If non religious or barely religious background people asked you to tell them bout, Jesus, how would you contextualize it for them?" It was a great question that challenged the whole group. Even by studying the workbook, we were falling into standard Christian language and taking for granted people knowing the story. I came up with this answer. "Jesus was sent by God to invite all to participate in bringing God's kingdom on earth to renew and make whole all the world. Jesus shows us what that partnership looks liked lived out: loving and welcoming people, working against oppression and abusive powers, seeking justice, dignity, and wholeness for all people. We hold it as truth because the powers that be during the time of Jesus killed him as they do all great prophets seeking to bring about significant change, justice, and life. That is why in Jesus' resurrection, we see God right the wrong done to him. All the while sending the message that the corrupt authorities, oppressive powers, and evil in this world cannot stop God's renewing, life-giving, loving kingdom. Jesus asked people to follow him in proclaiming God's kingdom and living as though it was here. He commands his followers to invite others into this renewed partnership with him and God. By doing so, we as humans find our true purpose in life."
I thought this was a significant question to ask. In campus ministry, I find more groups only reaching people who are already Christians. What does it look like to train ourselves to proclaim the gospel among and to people who have no such foundational language and categories we are used to telling the gospel? At BCM, we have been striving to reach out to the non-believer. We have been seeking to reach out to those who have left the church, been hurt by the church, or never known by the church. We have had some success, and that has driven our passion all the more.