Craig Greenfield’s ministry has been one of walking alongside his neighbors on the margins and his newest book, Subversive Jesus, is an invitation to walk alongside him as he develops his ministry and theology of the subversive gospel of Christ. The book, which released this week, is a beautiful mix of deeply personal stories, rich theology, and our heritage of subversive saints like Francis, Romero, and Gutiérrez.
The central concept of the book is the subversive nature of Christ, the gospel, and the kingdom of God. Greenfield is unafraid to step on the empire’s toes in order to lift up the poor and oppressed. He hopes to give us back the Jesus who flips tables and parties late with the wrong crowd. He helps us reclaim the radical gospel that stops at nothing short of flipping everything upside down.
CLOSING THE GAP BETWEEN CHARITY AND COMMUNITY
Greenfield challenges traditional Christian charity, what he calls a “circus of good intentions.” From his time spent in Cambodian slums to living in western inner cities, Greenfield discovers that the deeper need is for love, welcome, and hospitality.
In my own journey of shifting from serving the marginalized to walking alongside, it has been hard to find resources that I can relate to. Books like When Helping Hurts and Toxic Charity have done an excellent job knocking down the sinful structure of traditional charity, but have fallen short in their suggestions for alternatives. Subversive Jesus offers us a glimpse of what empowering love can look like on the margins of society.
What Greenfield lands on again and again is the radical welcome of Jesus. My favorite story of the book comes from his children. Greenfield met a woman named Leanne outside his church. She stayed in their home as she came down from her crack cocaine addiction, a recurring way they served the community that they called “prehab”. After the first morning as she woke up, Greenfield’s children climbed onto her her lap and asked her “Can you read us a book, Leanne?” He observed:
“I could almost see the healing taking place right before my eyes as Leanne was treated like a normal person for the first time in ages. My children treat everyone who comes into our home with the same childish impertinence and feistiness, whether our guests are dirty and homeless or cultured and well-off.”
Stories of radical welcome like this fill the pages of Subversive Jesus, inspiring us to take risks for the radically welcoming faith we profess.
Greenfield challenges the church to move beyond traditional charity and into the realm of radical welcome of our neighbors on the margins. If you are like me, in a place where you recognize the brokenness of the charity system, but are still unsure what living alongside looks like, grab this book and walk with Greenfield as he works through the challenges and blessings of this radical way of life. Discover anew the gospel unleashed in a world that is not as it should be and learn what it looks like to be a subversive follower of Christ in a broken world.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received an electronic review copy of this book for free. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.