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The gospel is good news, but in a world like ours, it can seem like a kind of death. The road to life in Christ, after all, takes us through the Cross.
But if God is killing us, he's killing us softly, gently remaking us in his image. That's a stark difference from our cold, hard world--a world turned upside down by sin, a world no one gets out of alive. In Killing Us Softly, Efrem Smith invites us into the countercultural kingdom of God right here in our midst, which is actively, relentlessly setting us and the whole world right side up.
Number of Pages: 192
Publication Date: 2017
|Dimensions: 8.25 X 5.50 (inches)|
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Efrem Smith helps us see that Christian discipleship is a counterintuitive life. In a world turned upside down by sin, God carefully and lovingly strips us of worldly values and turns us right-side up as good citizens and ambassadors of his Kingdom.
contemplativereflections3 Stars Out Of 5Book Review: Killing Us SoftlyMarch 9, 2017contemplativereflectionsQuality: 0Value: 0Meets Expectations: 0In "Killing Us Softly," Efrem Smith wants to encourage believers to participate in bringing transformative change to their communities and neighbourhoods. Smith argues that salvation does not stop at the personal level but requires actively engaging and inviting those who are underprivileged and marginalized to experience renewal through Jesus. Moreover, the author calls Christians to challenge the numerous upside-down systems, institutions, and people in society so that the right-side up of the kingdom of heaven can gradually be realized as we wait for Christ's return. Smith asserts that the first step in doing so is to experience personal renewal through Christ by repenting and putting to death the sinful ways and thoughts that permeate our lives. In specific, Smith focuses heavily on the racial conflicts that have plagued America and believes that Christians can play an important role in reversing the hostility and tensions that divide and hurt because of discrimination.
Although I appreciate Smith's passion for urban renewal and caring for those who are oppressed, I have some reservations on how he frames the gospel message throughout the book. Smith describes the gospel as being the good news that Christ came to empower those who are marginalized. It seems then that Smith is advocating for a version of the social gospel which emphasizes social justice as Christ's primary mission in His incarnation, death, and resurrection. Without a doubt, Jesus came to heal the sick and dwell with those that are poor and destitute. However, it is important to note that Jesus did not begin a social revolution to empower the underprivileged and restore social justice. Rather, Jesus pointed toward heart change through the work of the Holy Spirit which results in repentance and faith in Christ as Saviour and Lord. Even in what we refer to as the Great Commission, Jesus tells his followers to make disciples, baptize them, and teach them to follow all He commanded but there is no mention of social justice. I do agree that Christians are bound by the Bible's commands to perform good works and uphold justice but we also must acknowledge that Christ came not for social liberation but to free us from the power of Satan, sin, and death. We should not turn a deaf ear to calls for justice and mercy but we recognize that true restoration is found in Jesus and would only be fully realized when He returns and all tears, pain, and death will be wiped away.
I would recommend this book with reservation for Christians who want to be challenged to step out of their comfort zones to witness to a progressively sinful world. Smith encourages readers to carry the burdens of those who are suffering, encourage those who are downcast, and motivate those who need opportunities to reorient their priorities. Instead of being self-satisfied and complacent, Smith urges readers to reverse the distortions of society and promote the right-side up ways of God's kingdom. All these points are good and noble as I agree that Christians should be involved in expressing the love of Christ to proclaim the gospel. However, Jesus does not ask us to merely bring in social change but to point people to their deepest need which is salvation through Him. It is only when we have transformed hearts that we can bring cultural and societal renewal to our communities. Moreover, we need to set our eyes firmly on the hope for total restoration of all things when Jesus comes to set all things right-side up forever.
In compliance with Federal Trade Commission guidelines, I received a review copy from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for a book review.
bookwomanjoanOak Harbor, WAAge: 55-65Gender: female3 Stars Out Of 5Advancing the Kingdom of GodJanuary 29, 2017bookwomanjoanOak Harbor, WAAge: 55-65Gender: femaleQuality: 3Value: 3Meets Expectations: 3This book was not what I was expecting. Smith says the book is about spiritual death and embracing it as a way of understanding a key element of Christian formation. This book is an invitation, he writes, to enter into this journey of being killed softly by God's steadfast love and grace. I expected this book to be about spiritual death, how we experience it and work it out in our Christian lives.
I found the book to be more about advancing the kingdom of God in the world. He writes about how the world is up-side-down to us and that Christians have the right-side-up remedy, establishing the kingdom of God. He explores how Jesus demonstrated the counter cultural nature of the kingdom.
Smith centers most of his writing around racial injustice. Twice he voices his concern that the church is still one of the most racially segregated institutions in the nation. Many of his stories and illustrations revolve around actions advancing racial equality. He argues that if Jesus were on earth in the United States today, He be considered an ethnic minority, a person of color.
Smith is very encouraging for us to go deeper in our intimacy with God, to experience in new ways our identity in Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. He never helps us understand how we move into those realities. He has added some questions for reflection and discussion at the end of each chapter but there is never a strategy offered to help us decrease and see God increase.
He gives us lots illustrations and many stories from his own life. The book is more about his own thoughts on his experiences and advancing God's kingdom than it is an exploration of what it means to die to self. There is plenty of encouragement to go and advance the kingdom of God in the world. If that's what you are looking for, you'll like this book. If you are looking for a greater understanding of what it means to die to self, you may be disappointed.
Food for thought: To follow Christ is to follow him into the declaration and demonstration of the Kingdom of God.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.
gcw1York, PAAge: Over 65Gender: male4 Stars Out Of 5Killing Us SoftlyJanuary 24, 2017gcw1York, PAAge: Over 65Gender: maleQuality: 4Value: 0Meets Expectations: 4KILLING US SOFTLY
Reborn in the Upside-down Image of God
By Efrem Smith
The author covers a subject in this book that need to be addressed in the Christian church. The subject of how God loves us and will make the changes in our heart after we accept Christ as savior. That the changes are done by Him and not by us. The changes of how we look at things of the world and things in the world. The author shares stories from of his growing up and his adult life. He shares stories from people he knows and scriptures that help us understand how these changes are needed. He uses a term upside-down world, how those views need to change and once Christ is in our heart they will start to change. How we look at others, not to accept the worldview on everything.
The book is very informative and easy to read. The examples shares will help you to understand that we are Gods children and that God loves us and wants us to be His. God does the hard word, all we have to do is listen.
I think this would make a great book to use working with new believers and in discussion groups.
I received this book free from Tyndale Blog Network Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255