Every year at Stillmeadow, we have a special Sunday service to honor and pray for our graduates. In a way it is a sending service, as the graduates are preparing to continue their education or enter the workforce. As part of the sending we want to give them a gift that will be a reminder of God’s discipleship call on their life. Usually we give them a book. But in choosing a book I usually have a couple requirements. First, I want to give a book that is accessible, that any of our graduates can study. Second, in accessibility, I don’t want a book that waters down Jesus’ call to a radical way of life. Third, I want a book that is engaging, with practical application and real-life scenarios and stories…something to which any of our graduates can relate. And I think I found another book that does all three of these: The Jesus Creed for Students.
The Jesus Creed for Students is a condensed version of Scot McKnight’s much larger, much longer book that came out in 2005. Scot partnered with Chris Folmsbee (head of our very own Barefoot Ministries) and Syler Thomas to make the content of the book available for youth. I heard about the book on Chris Folmsbee’s blog, where he invited folks to get the book for free in exchange for a review. And I’m glad I did!
Here’s the basic synopsis: The Jesus Creed is Jesus’ response to a basic question, “What is the greatest commandment?” To this Jesus replies, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31). Our church has joined many others in summing this up: Love God, love others. To Jesus, this is the most important thing.
So in the first eight chapters of this book, the authors take the reader through the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7) and show how “love God, love others” weaves through the fabric of the entire sermon. And it’s done very well. And the authors avoid legalism, one of the easiest pitfalls of our faith, by wrapping up the final chapters reminding the readers that this call to love God and love others only happens by the work of God in our broken lives. They invite the reader to truly learn from and be shaped by the person of Christ, not just an idea. And finally the book concludes with a call to be a boundary breaker, a person who courageously follows Christ wherever He leads.
One of the best parts about this book is that the authors are not just handling ideas, but calling for changed lives. And they give structure for that, inviting the reader to recite the Jesus Creed at the beginning of each chapter and the Lord’s Prayer at the end of each chapter. And they don’t leave it at that. They encourage the readers to make those a part of every part of their day.
Although I am excited to give this to our graduates, I believe this book will also be useful for current high school students as well.