subversive Jesus [a book review + giveaway]

I find myself encountering an increasing number of folks unfamiliar with our work, requiring me to put our lives into a thirty-second elevator pitch.

After an apparently not-so-great attempt, a new acquaintance, seeking clarification, asked, “So what is your primary focus, meeting needs or sharing the Gospel?”

To which I responded, “Yes.”

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If Tattoos on the Heart is the “who” and “why” of incarnational ministry, Subversive Jesus, by Craig Greenfield, is the “what” and “where.” (And y’all know how I feel about Tattoos on the Heart.)

Subversive Jesus is the story of Craig and his wife Nay’s experiment in putting the most counter-cultural teachings of Jesus into practice. When Jesus said invite the poor for a meal, they welcomed homeless friends, local crack addicts, and women from the street corner over for dinner. When Jesus proclaimed freedom for the captive, they organized Pirates of Justice flash mobs to protest cruise ship exploitation. (Yes, what that said.)

Here’s what I really, really want you to hear me say about this book:

It is an anthem for those of us living and loving on the margins.
It is a gentle invitation to those of us still trying to figure it all out.

It’s both. Beautifully, gracefully, affirmingly, Yes.
(And for the record, we are most certainly, still trying to figure it all out.)

My personal experience with books in this genre is they are often peppered with judgement and condemnation, leaving many of us feeling as if our lives are “less than” or “not relevant” to the upside-down Kingdom Jesus speaks of. Subversive Jesus is not that book. Craig is loving in his reminder that “Jesus is wildly and prophetically subversive, because beyond our affluent comfortable suburbs, all is not right.”

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He recognizes that “from place to place, even Christian to Christian, a radical welcome (i.e. hospitality) will look different” as he encourages us to “widen our embrace.”

Craig explores the idea that Jesus’ teachings represented not just a ticket to heaven but a subversive plan for heaven to come here on earth and gives practical suggestions for how we can overlap our lives with those on the margins, without having to move into the slums. (Although for some of us, that is the subversive plan for our lives.)

Craig is not soft on his belief (which is also mine) that “as Jesus showed us, healing and transformation flow out of relationship – not the delivery of services.”

Yet, he gives room for each of us to discover what this can look like in our own lives, giving us stories and scriptures as we “search for the deepest inclination of our heart and follow it to where it meets the suffering of the world.”

What is the deepest inclination of your heart Friend? Follow it, and there you will find our subversive Jesus, turning the world upside down with radical hospitality, eroding the margins and closing the gap between charity and community, and inviting you to join him.

There, as Mother Teresa says, you will find your own Calcutta.

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I’m excited to give a copy of Subversive Jesus to one of YOU.
The giveaway will run until 12:00am EST Friday, May 13th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(If you don’t win, I hope you’ll purchase Craig’s book. It’s important to note all author profits will go to support the work of Alongsiders in reaching out to the world’s most vulnerable children. Learn more about Alongsiders here.)

*I did receive a copy of this book for review, but the content of this post are my 100% authentic unbiased reflections. Ok, slightly biased because Craig is my people.

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And all God's people said: