Holy Subversion: Allegiance to Christ in an Age of Rivals, by Trevin Wax
Ed Stetzer writes in the foreword of Holy Subversion, “The lordship of Jesus Christ should permeate every area and aspect of the believer’s life; that alliance with King Jesus should subvert the idolatrous forces of the heart and the culture to impact people all over the world with the gospel.” This small book by Trevin Wax packs a powerful punch as it takes on the idols of our day and counters the Caesar worship within the church today with the biblical view of seeing all of life as under the sole lordship of Christ. Starting with salvation, Trevin explains that the Christian life is not about self, but about Jesus—a truth that is being marred by many popular methods of evangelism which invited people to become saved so that they can go to heaven. “To strike down the self and put it in its proper place, we must turn to the biblical teaching about salvation. The Bible teaches that salvation starts in the heart of God. The Gospel is primarily about Jesus. Salvation is a gift of pure grace. And God has saved us in order for us to take part in a community of believers.” (Wax 2010) It is this very message of the lordship of Jesus Christ that has the power to turn the world “upside down.” Trevin writes, “Put the message of Jesus’ atoning death on the cross together with the biblical call to bring our world under the lordship of the risen Jesus and we have an explosive message that rocks our world to the very core.”
The fact that the gospel is meant for more than just one’s self, that it is for the community, is at the core of Holy Subversion. “The disciples we produce are a direct result of the gospel we preach. If we proclaim a gospel that focuses only on the private experience of the individual and the heavenly benefits for the next life, then we should not be surprised to see people dismissing the importance of good works in this life within the context of the church.” (Wax 2010) Trevin contends that the transforming power of the gospel in a person’s life should truly transform him—privately and publicly. Faith experienced only “in your heart” is dead, if it does not affect your works and lifestyle. “Our good works are essential to salvation, not because they earn us favor with God, but because they prove our identity as God’s children by putting on display God’s majesty, God’s love, and God’s gospel.” (Wax 2010) At one point Trevin shares of an older woman in his church who challenged him to continue his work in Romania despite the cultural pressure to remain in the United States: “You have nothing to fear…You are part of God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand. You are invincible until you have done all the good works that god has destined for you to do.”
Among other “Caesars” worshiped by our culture is success. During his time in Romania, a Romanian pasture shared a valuable truth: “Don’t think that true success will come from adopting a strategy that will lead you to fulfilling one purpose. Jesus called himself the Good Shepherd—the one who lays down his life for his sheep. Success in God’s eyes does not come without sacrifice. Don’t try to be successful. Expend your energy in seeking to be faithful. Faithfulness is success.” For the Christian, life is not about making money so that we can drive a fast car and retire at age sixty. Scripture has gifted us with a far greater calling that defines our success.
In summary, Holy Subversion addresses the sacred/secular dichotomy found so pervasive in Christian circles. He writes: “We cannot divide up our lives into ‘sacred’ aspects and ‘secular’ aspects, as if Jesus were Lord of only our sacred practices. The Bible teaches that every area of the Christian’s life should be sacred—set apart under the lordship of Christ. Our labor must be unto the Lord just as our leisure must be unto the Lord. We do not confess that Jesus is Lord of only one drawer in the chest. He is the chest’s Maker, and he becomes the chest’s Redeemer—having purchased all the drawers with his precious blood.”