Introduction to the Imagine… Series
The central theme in the ministry and teaching of Jesus Christ is the kingdom of God. In his teaching, healing, and preaching, Jesus both announces and demonstrates the power and presence of the kingdom. The kingdom comes where Jesus is.
There is no better way to come to an understanding of what Jesus means by the kingdom of God than in his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). This sermon has been called the manifesto or blueprint of the kingdom of God. The first book of the Imagine series, Imagine a New World: Reflections on the Sermon on the Mount, presents the Sermon on the Mount as an invitation of Jesus to imagine a new world (the kingdom of God) and to live in this new community now. This book studies the Sermon on the Mount, passage by passage, and offers a special extended study of the Lord’s Prayer.
In this second book, Imagine a New Economy: Biblical Reflections on Money and Possessions, some might say we move from the Sermon on the Mount to the Sermon on the Amount. At least that’s what stewardship often gets reduced to—what we do with our money—which is an inadequate definition of stewardship for many reasons. This book moves into an in-depth study of biblical views about money, wealth, and possessions. Why this topic? Because after the kingdom of God, this is the second most frequent subject of Jesus’ teachings in the gospels. Why is Jesus so concerned about the place of money and possessions in our lives? Because “the first question regarding discipleship is what one does with one’s money” (Klyne Snodgrass, 389). We might put it this way: the primary hindrance to living as the new community in the new world Jesus envisions is our relationship to our money and possessions.
The third book of the series, Imagine the World of Jesus’ Parables: Enter at Your Own Risk, studies the parables of Jesus and how Jesus uses parables to help us see and enter the new world he envisions. Through his parables, Jesus engages, challenges and seeks to elicit a response from his hearers. His parables draw the hearers into the world of the story and then lead the hearers through twists and turns to unanticipated destinations. Because the parables seek to change the hearers, they are advised to enter at their own risk.