This Beautiful Mess – Book review

The shift that’s needed, I propose, is for kingdom people to become the sent people of God, to shift from coming to going.
Rick McKinley

This Beautiful MessNo book can be outstanding in every chapter, profound on every page.

But usually somewhere is something that makes the reading worthwhile.

I found it in Appendix 2, “Kingdom Shifts” of This Beautiful Mess.

What, then, might be required for the people of the kingdom to make a shift from protection to proclamation?


For one thing, we will need to reexamine how Christ has called us to interact with the world. The gospel calls us to live as aliens and strangers in the world. Yet I don’t see this call requiring that we legislate our moral differences as much as proclaim our love for Jesus and the love He has given us for the world.


Some may disagree and say, for example, that the motive behind the Defense of Marriage Act is a love for God. I don’t doubt that, yet I’d ask, Does your love for God move you to love others with an expression of love that they can understand and experience?


If the answer is probably not, then we’re moving further away from our most important value, not closer.  


I believe we must choose to be proclaimers of God’s love over being protectors of morality.


…Our failure to love the world is our sin to own.

You may agree or disagree with author Rick McKinley’s example, but it’s hard to disagree with his point: If how we think we’re showing the love of Christ to others is not in reality showing the love of Christ to others, we need to adjust.

But there’s far more to this book than that. The premise is that the kingdom of God is here and now, and as believers, we need to live in that truth. As McKinley puts it,

I hope this book feels like a permission slip from Mom for you: get out of religion free. You see, Someone knows and really likes you. Someone wants you to find that larger, freer experience of being that you sense is out there just waiting for you to live it.

He reminds us how focused Jesus was on telling about the kingdom. The gospel of Matthew contains “the kingdom of heaven” 31 times. In Luke and elsewhere, “the kingdom of God” comes up 65 times. Preaching the good news of the kingdom was of primary importance.

His insight about advancing the kingdom versus being in the kingdom was helpful to me.

When Jesus talked about the kingdom, He never talked about our building it or advancing it. Never. He said, “The kingdom is…” He simply invited His followers to see it, embrace it, believing in the unfading reality of it, and join in what His Father was already doing in the world.


Being kingdom people. I love that and I hate it.

He goes on to explain he loves it because of the discoveries involved in understanding it. But he hates it because being is sometimes harder than doing.

Elsewhere in a chapter about going through hardships in the kingdom, he relays a poignant conversation he had with Celestin, his friend from Rwanda.

I was struck by our global friends’ compassion toward the Western church. In many ways, they feel sorry for us. They see our arrogance toward the rest of the world, our addiction to pleasure and comfort, our culture of sensuality and excess, which make it hard for us to fathom many of Christ’s teachings. They see these not as evidence of superiority but as proof of disadvantage and poverty. They mourn our deep losses and have told us that they pray for us about these things.


“We see what you’re up against,” Celestin said. “When you have medicine for the dandruff in your hair and for the fungus in your fingernails, it’s hard to believe that you need God on a daily basis. That’s a difficult thing to be up against.”

Thought-provoking passages like this and others made this book worthwhile reading to me. Is it the most thorough book on the subject of the kingdom? No. But is it a good and relevant one for our time? Definitely.

* * *


My thanks to Waterbrook Multnomah
for the review copy of this book

6 thoughts on “This Beautiful Mess – Book review

  1. Dianna

    Thanks, Lisa, for sharing passages from this book. I especially am partial to the last couple of paragraphs expressing how our global friends view us. Reminds me a bit of what Sandy posted the other day…we, in our cultural, have no idea unless we’ve been outside the borders of America just how blessed with material possessions we are, but Oh, my friend, as you now from your trips outside our borders how spiritually starved we are. We hunger for more stuff…not for that which causes us to grow in the knowledge and understanding of His love for us. Thank you, Lisa, for sharing.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’re so right, Dianna. And it does go well with what Sandy has been sharing. We’re overflowing with “stuff” and we desire for even more, yet what our hearts really long for is drowned out. That message hit home with me too. I think of my Salvadorian friends who have so much less yet are so eager to share even that. Praying for the Lord to continue to grow us into desiring his riches instead of being satisfied with our poverty in spirit.

  2. floyd

    Wow. Those are hard hitting examples of what we lack… This one sounds like it might give me a bloody nose! Actually, just what I need… Might have to follow you on this one too…

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Who are you becoming, Floyd? Mr. Reader? ha. I’m glad you enjoyed the CIA & Jesus book. This one is a lot less story than the other, but the author does give quite a few examples of how he sees the kingdom in action today, and suggestions for how we can join in with what’s already going on.

  3. Pamela

    Rwanda friends praying for us because of our arrogance, excesses and pleasures shames me. It’s so convicting and certainly urges me to examine my heart. My heart’s cry is not to BE in God’s kingdom, but to ADVANCE it. Being is so much easier.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      It shames me, too, Pamela.

      It prompts me to remember though that although we may be a “rich” nation materially and “free” politically, we’re still poor and bound in many ways. And we especially need prayers for humility and dependence in the midst of our wealth and independence.

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