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Book Review: Subversive Jesus by Craig Greenfield

May 18, 2016

The subtitle, “an adventure in justice,  mercy, and faithfulness in a broken world,” describes well Craig Greenfield’s Subversive Jesus (Zondervan, 2016). In eleven easy-to-read chapters each describing an aspect of the counter-cultural life Jesus modelled, Greenfield challenges the reader to consider how each quality remains vital to Christian living in the 21st century.

After sharing how the “nice” image he learned growing up in the church in New Zealand was smashed by encountering the true Gospel during six months in Cambodia, Greenfield explains ten areas of life which Jesus calls us to live “upside down” from western culture’s values. Along with his wife Nay and their family, they have lived these principles in slums of Phnom Penh, Cambodia and the downtown eastside of Vancouver (BC), Canada. The organization they serve with is Alongsiders, one of the key values Greenfield embraced to the full in entering these two desperate contexts.

As a western Christian like Greenfield who has grown up with similar “nice” images of Jesus, the call to live the Gospel in this way came through clearly and with challenge. He was forthright about his fears, yet equally clear in reminding us Jesus words are not complicated, just “difficult.” There is a refreshing lack of over-dramatic experiences, although the miraculous work God accomplishes in people’s lives when they see Jesus is shared clearly. Following the subversive Jesus is tough, faith-testing, gut-wrenching, risky business, yet clearly transformative for the Christian and others as Greenfield testifies.

I highly recommend anyone this book, though you deserve the warning: it may mess up “your” life plans.

This book was provided to the reviewer by HarperCollins in exchange for an online review.
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