Subversive Kingdom: Living as Agents of Gospel Transformation, by Ed Stetzer is an excellent book if you want to challenge yourself to a more spiritually authentic life within the subdivision you are probably living in. It takes as it’s message the challenge of living out the call of Jesus in meaningful ways and through memorably “subversive” deeds in order to demonstrate the radical love of Christ in our world today. He does this by centering on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, a text that has been written on by many people in numerous ways.
I’m certain this book is worth reading, but possibly (at least in my mind, spirit, and journey) not for the reasons Stetzer might like. While he is challenging the reader to take the words of Christ seriously in applying them to life circumstances, I find many of his examples to be essentially bourgeois, lacking in the true radicality of what Christ taught that day on the mountain. The entire book speaks to me like much of the church teaching I hear in my hometown of Ocala, Florida…trite, polite, and quintessentially non-radical instruction in discipleship.
OK, now that I have somewhat demolished your desire to read Stetzer’s book, let me say this:
1. Overall, I admire Ed Stetzer and have considered much of his thought for years.
2. Speaking for myself, I know that I (and perhaps we) have much to develop when it comes to simple day-to-day discipleship in my life.
3. We ought not to forgot the “lesser” practices of discipleship in our effort to develop the “greater” ones…as the Buddhists say, “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”
4. NONE OF US, not I, not you, and not Ed Stetzer “have arrived” yet.
I guess what I’m trying to get at is this: The type of discipleship Stetzer is trying to describe comes across to me as not worthy of the title of the book. It is hardly “subversive”. It is hardly radical, or revolutionary, or conspiratorial, or anything else along those lines.
It simply seems to me that Ed Stetzer (and some other folks like him) are simply riding the coat tails of more radical Christian authors who truly are revolutionizing the concept and practice of discipleship.
That is, unless you consider a comfortable life in the ‘burbs to be the most radical display of discipleship possible.
Don’t worry, Ed, you’ll find a receptive audience for your book…because a comfortable life in the ‘burbs is about the most radical form of discipleship most Christians in America today can handle…or desire.
This book is as middle-class and bourgeois as the all-white cover it comes in.
I believe Jesus challenges us to much more than this.
And I very well may be the biggest hypocrite of all.