ONE. Weekend Away 2018

Another year, another One. weekend away 🙂

I wish I could keep these moments in a time capsule. This year, we had four talks and discussions given by Chris Wright, Jenny Gallagher, John Wyatt, and Hannah; an evening of psalms and prayers; and a communion in the end.

Here are some highlights from the talks:

Chris Wright, The Shape of Mission

– The Bible is the story of the whole mission of God for all creation.
– The Bible is not (just) a book of doctrines or rules or promises.
– The Bible is a grand narrative of six acts: creation, rebellion, O.T. promises, Christ and the Gospel (not just His crucifixion but also resurrection and others), N.T. mission (Pentecost and onwards), New Creation (His coming down to earth, not us going up into the air)
– We don’t (just) “apply Bible verses to our lives”, but live as participants of His story.
– It is His mission; not ours. Modern-day mission often comes in a form of “our mission” that is human-centric causing many conflicts
– Modern-day mission focuses heavily on evangelism and teaching but less on compassion, justice, and care of creation
– Evangelism and gospel comes from the same word; the gospel is not a formula or a prayer you pray to get saved (~ Scot McKnight’s King Jesus Gospel?)
– King Jesus turns all the expectations upside down
– God’s will is not His will for me but to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
– The “Great Commission” is not just to preach and baptise people, but to manifest His lordship over all creation.
– Everything we do flows from the lordship of Christ
– The goal of creation is cosmic.
– Galatians 2:10, “remember the poor”

Jenny Gallagher, The Secular/Sacred Divide

– Every moment is spiritual; there is no divide over sacred and secular.
– Spurgeon: “To a man who lives unto God nothing is secular, everything is sacred. He sleeps on the bosom of God, and lives and moves in the divine presence.”
– There is no spiritual elitism.
– There is no word “spiritual” in Hebrew O.T. as all things were considered as spiritual
– Luther: we are called into, not out of the world.
– Warren: work becomes worship when you perform it in the awareness of His presence
– Work is a good gift to us as part of the cultural mandate in Genesis
– We work to give and share
– Invest your relationship with others in work
– The early church draws people in by the way they love one another.
– They shared everything in common, cared for the needy, and respected women.
– We seek common good for human flourishing by honouring others’ human dignity rather than through forceful legislation
– As the royal priesthood, the temple of the Holy Spirit, and a living sacrifices, we do all things in His name for His glory
– Sermons on the Mount depicts Kingdom values : the last shall be the first and the first shall be the last
– Jesus was born poor and a refugee
– The love of Christ should control us in everything we do
– Seek and see God in everything you do
– Discovery joy, share grace, and hope in the Lord in everything you do

Recommended Reading by Gallagher
– Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
– Wright, Surprised by Hope
– Cosden, The Heavenly Cost of Earthly Work
– Pearcy, Total Truth
– Warren, The Purpose Driven Life
– Yancey, Vanishing Grace
– Yancey, Christian and Politics: Uneasy Partners

John Wyatt, Double Listening

– “We cannot rank our calling and gifting”
– “God gives us deep, profound longings and desire that are rooted in Him”
– “The heart’s deepest longing and the world’s deepest need intersect”
– In the secular world, justice is seen as “fairness”; in the Bible, justice and righteousness are the same word in both Greek and Hebrew
– Make this your prayer: “Lord, make me usable in your kingdom; it doesn’t matter how small the use is. Just use me as an instrument”
– Stott didn’t just preach or teach but lived Christ
– Our generation has an intellectual laziness, but we are told to love with all our mind!
– Double listening: we need to learn to understand others genuinely. Be prepared to dig deep and avoid simplistic answers
– God speaks through non-believers (common grace)
– Read secular books and engage with the authors
– We need humility to learn from believers who have gone before us
– We have a responsibility to use our education well
– The Spirit never cease to lead the Church into new and deeper insights in the midst of challenges

Hannah Hawksbee, Living Simply

– Do we really practice “riches I need not nor men’s empty praise”
– “Christ be in my spending and my saving”
– We are His stewards over creation and resources
– It is by His grace the world is sustained
– When we are not generous, it shows our doubt of God’s generosity
– We are generous because of His generosity
– He is the source of all wealth (even if we “work hard”)
– We always want the one thing that God didn’t or has not given us
– The top 42 richest people own more than what the 3.7 billions poorest people on earth have altogether
– We throw away 1/3 of the food produced
– Learn the tension between fasting and feasting; occasional celebration and normal routine
– Have companions that hold you accountable on how you spend
– Get to know those who are needy and share with them; help the poor brothers and sisters as well as neighbour
– Set some margins in places of spending
– Learn to be content in Christ
– Learn to spend according to God’s economics
– Learn to distinguish “I want this” and “I need this”
– Learn to set your heart on the right place: Christ and His kingdom

Even the final brief messages during the communion shared by Wyatt and Rhys are so encouraging,

– If the spirit nudges us through any of the messages, we just simply need to open our hands and receive
– Always remember the centrality of Jesus Christ
– God always creates something out of nothing. God uses things that are not to put the things that are to nothing. This is often the pattern (nothing to something)
– When you partake of the bread and wine, look around consciously: this is the Lord’s family. You are joined to not just the local but the worldwide, not just the present but the past body of Christ
– And of course the lines from the songs we always sing during communion: “We share in the Bread of Life” and”We will feast in the House of Zion. We will feast and weep no more!”

and yes, I enjoyed the evening of psalms and prayers soooooo much! I actually had the entire time recorded on my iPhone – every single prayer that each student had spoken and every song that we had sung are so precious!

Jesus Wept.

“Jesus wept” (John 11:35): the shortest verse in the Bible. (At least as far as I know, in English.)

And yet how much weight of sorrow and simplicity it carries, expressing Jesus’ humanity to its finest.

My Confessions: 2017

If you are going to read only one post I have written this year, I invite you to consider this one, since I am really opening up myself this time.

I have always held this to be true: if you think you have seen and tasted enough of Christ, just wait until he strips away your pride one layer by another. As long as you are willing, you will see how much more He actually is. Years after years, this claim only proves itself to be more solid than ever. On this year’s reflection, I deal with the issue of love; the digging of my wounds; and the matter of death.

. . . On Love . . .

The most quoted verses on love, following John 3:16 and 1 Corinthians 13, is probably 1 John 4:19, We love because he first loved us.

For years, I understood it this way: Because God loves me, I should love people.

In other words, it is like a win-win deal: God, since you have done this to me, I’ll do this to others.

The words “command” and “ought to” in other related verses (John 13:14; Mark 12:31; 1 John 4:21, 1 John 4:11; ) further justify this way of thinking.

But “We love because he first loved us” is not a deal. Rather, it is a cause-and effect.

It isn’t until these past few years have I finally grasped the cause-and-effect relationship on our spiritual life: feed on Christ and the fruit (of the spirit) will naturally come. There is absolutely no way you can bear any fruit when you are detached from the root (Jesus Christ), “Apart from me, you can do nothing.”

In other words, try living your spiritual life by human effort; you will run out of gas pretty soon.

Well, the same on love.

Feed on divine love, and your love for others will naturally grow.

Yet try loving people by your own effort; you will run out of love-gas right away.

In other words, the principle is simply “Loved people loved people.”

Sounds all too easy right, but this is indeed the most incredible truth I have learned this year. Ephesians 5:1 says we are beloved children. As loved children, we love others. “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else,” (1 Thessalonians 3:12)

I love how Scott Sauls says, God is not just loving, God is love. If you have experienced His love in Christ and continuously immerse yourself in His love, loving people should come naturally. You – just – can’t – help – it. You just want to keep loving people.

Of course I have made it look too simple, since love also consists of self-denial; that, takes a life-long training.

. . . On Wounds and Healing . ..

Throughout the years, I have learned to let God deal with my sin more and more willingly. “Where sin runs deep, Your grace runs deeper” has finally become a personal experience for me.

But one thing I had not let him do until recently, was to let him deal with my wounds.

Sin and wounds are not the same, yet I had been confusing the two.

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” I mistook sins as wounds, so I, in the name of love, covered up my wounds without actually having God deal with them.

Where there are wounds, there comes the need of healing. Healing, like Scripture says, requires reconciliation and forgiveness.

Yet like Marshall Segal writes, “Reconciliation does not require closeness. It does require forgiveness and brotherly love.” I, though, mistook reconciliation, forgiveness, and brotherly love as closeness. 

And since I believe a follower of Jesus should always strive for reconciliation and forgiveness, and because I thought these two equal to closeness, I felt incredibly guilty every time I had the thought of leaving the situation.

Looking back, I cannot actually believe how many lies I have told myself and my close ones in order to run away from my wounds. To repress my pain. To justify my ignorance.

Likewise, another common mistake is to assume forgiveness as “I’m okay”, even when things are not okay.

When this “I’m okay” becomes habitual, you are essentially preventing God from intervening and dispensing grace, meaning you are not really depending on Him completely.

It means you don’t really believe God knows the best (The old me would have never said this, because I never liked the phrase “God knows what’s best for you.” I rolled my eyes every time I heard that phrase, because it just sounds too self-centered. )

But now I have realised that, God does know and want what is best for you, because ultimately, it is for His purpose.

Like Beth Moore says, “A broken heart heals when we allow the healing to go as deep as the wound went.”  Wounds that have been accumulated for one year, two years, even seven years, or a life-time. I am so glad I have finally, after ages, allowed Jesus Christ to dig up my wounds and actually deal with them. I would have never realised my wound has been so much deeper than what I thought it was if it wasn’t His active pursuit.

I am no longer hiding, defending. and pretending. I find myself as I am found in Him. I am grateful that grace, as a person, has picked me up once again.

“My life is a witness to vulgar grace—a grace that amazes as it offends. A grace that pays the eager beaver who works all day long the same wages as the grinning drunk who shows up at ten till five. A grace that hikes up the robe and runs breakneck toward the prodigal reeking of sin and wraps him up and decides to throw a party no ifs, ands, or buts. A grace that raises bloodshot eyes to a dying thief’s request—“Please, remember me”—and assures him, “You bet!” A grace that is the pleasure of the Father, fleshed out in the carpenter Messiah, Jesus the Christ, who left His Father’s side not for heaven’s sake but for our sakes, yours and mine. This vulgar grace is indiscriminate compassion. It works without asking anything of us. It’s not cheap. It’s free, and as such will always be a banana peel for the orthodox foot and a fairy tale for the grown-up sensibility. Grace is sufficient even though we huff and puff with all our might to try to find something or someone it cannot cover. Grace is enough. He is enough. Jesus is enough.” – Brennan Manning. All Is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir (pp. 193-194).

. . . On Death and Resurrection . . .

These past few months, two of my friends passed away because of cancer. They were both around my age. It is crazy how cancer drains people. People age so fast within a year, a month, and even a week.

I am much closer to the girl who passed away later, but both of them are known for their remarkably joyful spirits, often expressed through their genuine laughter and smiles, even in the midst of struggles.

Although I have known the girl for only about 10 months, I got to become much closer to her during summer when she was in the hospital.

It is easy to quote the psalmist to say joy comes in the morning. Nevertheless, the sorrow you see in her family may tell a different story.

But I do believe in the communion of saints. I really do; it is not some bizarre abstract metaphor. Therefore one thing I know I can do, is to live on with the joy and strength that she embodies when she was still here on earth. Her joy is my joy, and her strength is my strength.

I don’t care about what “religious” or “spiritual” view you hold; if you have felt the heavy weight of pain that comes with separation and death, you will h-o-p-e, in desperation, that death will be crushed to death.

Whether you agree or not, I believe humans are created with a body that feels the pain of the flesh, a heart with emotional capacities, and a spirit that connects with God.

If even in the midst of all the brokenness in this world, you still think this life is worthy to be lived and celebrated, then an expectation of a life that is everlasting shouldn’t come surprising to you.

Otherwise I really don’t know what you can be living for when there is nothing to look forward to.

When we Christians talk about eternal life, we are not just talking about the length of life – we are talking about the quality of life as well.

Eternal life is not (merely) life after death, it is God’s divine life flowing within you since the moment you receive it.

Humans currently are just on a detour.

Many people, including my dear agnostic friends, believe there is a God, but this God, in their eyes, is a god that embodies hatred and death. You know what, if this is indeed what God is like, I won’t worship this god, too. I absolutely won’t.

But I worship the God who is love and life. His name is Jesus Christ.

“Describe the God you’ve rejected. Describe the God you don’t believe in. Maybe I don’t believe that God either. ” – Tim Keller

Check out my Top 10 Books of 2017 here || Check out my Top 10 Songs of 2017 here

According to The Light Given

Has it ever occurred to you that, you want someone to come to faith so badly, and he or she does seem to be responding, but then you are just not sure if the person is “really saved”? We turn even more anxious if the person is someone who is near the end of his or her life.

“He doesn’t really grasp the notion of trinity though.” 

“She didn’t really pray that sinner’s prayer though.” (I am not a fan of this, but it seems like a good example.)

So is he in? or is she out?

Our worry does little good, though. Here is the comforting truth: God will judge according to the light each one has been given. As we continue to be “dispensers” of Christ’s light which shines through us, we can safely leave the rest to the Lord.

P.S. One night, I suddenly broke down during prayers. There are several people who have been so exceptionally dear to my heart that I want them to come to Christ sooner. I was groaning for I had uttered all that I could in words already.

In despair, the Lord spoke, do you really think I love them any less than you do? 

The God that I trust and pray to, is the God whose love is beyond our comprehension. His love, as Ephesians 3 writes, surpasses all our knowledge. And yes, God does love the ones whom we love much more than we do. So much more.

My Favourite Books 2017

Among the books that I have read this year, here are my favourites without any kind of ranking:

  1.  The Pastor: A Memoir (Eugene Peterson)Eugene Peterson remains one of the biggest influences on my walk in Christ. Like Scott Sauls (another “hero” of mine) writes, Peterson’s pastoral ministry has inspired so many with ”his emphasis on ordinary faithfulness over a shallow pursuit of extraordinary experience, his repudiation of Christian celebrity, [and] his inspiration toward ‘a long obedience in the same direction’”. This book is filled with heart-warming stories of how God has shaped Peterson’s tender and affectionate heart that truly embodies grace as a Person.
  2. Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church (N.T. Wright)Wright’s writing sometimes seems to be unorganised for its readers, but this book articulates so well against the common misunderstanding of Christian faith being equivalent of “going to heaven when you die” whereas the reality is “heaven coming down to and on earth” m. In this case, we Christians have not lived as resurrected people.
  3. Waiting On God (Andrew Murray)A wonderful daily devotional by Murray on an active and hope-filled waiting on God.
  4. Letters from a Skeptic: A Son Wrestles with His Father’s Questions about Christianity (Greg Boyd)I am definitely not an “open-theist”, but it does not at all affect how much I appreciate this book. I have truly enjoyed this book and am thankful for its publishing. Boyd’s love and patience for his father is an inspiring pattern to all of us, not to mention he so eloquently articulates many things that I have tried to expressed in words, yet find it difficult. I think every believer should read this.
  5. All Is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir (Brennan Manning)Many modern-day Pharisees enjoy condescending Manning in either an out-there or a subtle way, but Manning’s life, as recorded in this memoir, exactly manifests “where sins run deep, Your grace runs deeper” (Romans 5:20).
  6. Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading (Eugene Peterson)See my book review here
  7. God’s Big Picture: Tracing the Story-Line of the Bible (Vaughan Roberts)Based on Graeme Goldsworthy’s work, Roberts summarises how the kingdom of God is the central theme of the Bible. I came across this book during my time in The Hookses with the brother and sisters in my local church.
  8. A Meal with Jesus: Discovering Grace, Community, & Mission Around the Table (Tim Chester)A refreshing read on sharing meals with non-believers by Tim Chester, one of my favourite authors of today (not that I have read many of his books).
  9. You Can Change: God’s Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behavior and Negative Emotions (Tim Chester)See my book review here
  10. The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness (Tim Keller)A great little book by Keller, even the non-habitual readers should read it! What we need most today are indeed messages like this: not I but Christ.

Some other books that I have enjoyed:

  1. Heaven Misplaced (Douglas Wilson)
  2. A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good (Miroslav Volf)
  3. Art & the Bible (Francis Schaeffer)
  4. Simply Good News: Why the Gospel Is News and What Makes It Good (N.T. Wright)

    See my book reflection here

  5. Love That Lasts: How We Discovered God’s Better Way for Love, Dating, Marriage, and Sex (Jefferson and Alyssa Bethke)

    See my book reflection here

Do You Agree With This Statement?

What we need more today is an expression of Him rather than a defense of Him. 

I agree that In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15), but too many apologetics have been known not for gentleness and respect, but for their argumentative spirit that is directly in contrast with these characters as Paul has emphasized. (As you can guess as well, I prefer much more ‘to give an answer’ than the translation of ‘to defend’.)

Of course, not all apologists are quarrelsome. I respect men like Hank Hanegraaff very much. Interestingly, having dedicated most of his life to apologetics, Hank decided to join the Eastern Orthodox Church. This decision came after him having read books by Watchman Nee and met with Christians in China,

“ I saw Chinese Christians who were deeply in love with the Lord, and I learned that while they may not have had as much intellectual acumen or knowledge as I did, they had life.” says Hank.

Although I did not go his route, I also had a similar experience in which a group of brothers and sisters, under the influence of Nee, rekindled my love for Him and His word.

To avoid confusion, let me clarify. Giving an answer about our faith comes naturally as a part of expressing of Him. Why would we resist telling others about God if we have experienced His resurrected life?

But without the Spirit, a mere intellectual defense is empty. Our desire to answer people gracefully originates from our overflowing affection for Christ and others rather than a motive to defend Him, ourselves, and our argument. The first kind serves Him and others; the latter kind serves our own ego. We do not need more division and pride. Instead, we need a full expression of Him as a corporate instrument that is known for His love, His grace, His truth, and His power.

Reflection: Simply Good News by N.T. Wright

The problem with being a theologian is that everyone expects you to say everything all the time. If you write a book about one part of the gospel, they think you don’t believe the rest.” – N.T. Wright

I quote this because I am tired of people saying Wright denies the penal and substitutionary aspects of Jesus’ crucifixion, especially when page 46 of this book demolishes this misrepresentation very clearly.

Just because Wright often emphasizes more the Christus Victor aspect of the crucifixion of Jesus does not mean he denies penal substitution. He himself has asserted in this book that Penal Substitution falls into the bigger picture of Christus Victor. Like Tim Keller says, Paul uses many different paradigms, and we can too.

I like how Wright puts it, that, on the cross, not only did Jesus died for us, but He put death to death and thus, claiming victory as King. As stressed by Wright, merely holding the view of Penal Substitution can often lead to a shallow understanding of the gospel, causing us to live as if it is not “in heaven as on earth” but rather “in heaven as in heaven”. In this view, “Good News” often ends up being simply good advice with the back story being “we are going to hell”.

The full gospel is more than “Jesus dying for our sins so that we can go to heaven”. What is so good about this news is that Jesus Christ, as God in person, has returned to become our King —in accordance to the Old Testament— to fulfill God’s plan of both rescuing the world through the call of Israel and revealing His glory to nations.

While I enjoy Wright’s writing, I personally find Simon Gathercole’s The Gospel of Paul And The Gospel of Kingdom a more comprehensive and balanced read. Gathercole explains how the gospel carries three major themes: 1) the identity of Jesus as Messiah, 2) his work of atoning sacrifice and justification, and 3) the inauguration of a new dominion. These three are inseparable, and we cannot minimise the importance of any single of them. The tendency of many, however, as Wright has argued, is that many often overlook 1 and 3.

Perhaps I am still not that great as a reader, because Wright sometimes stills seems a bit repetitive to me. Still, just as many of his other work, Simply Good News is to be cherished. My favourite chapter so far has been chapter 8, in which Wright writes that we often reverse the order (and thus the priorities) of the Lord’s Prayer because of our individualistic understanding of the gospel. Very true indeed!

Honouring One Another

A few weeks ago, I heard one of the best messages in my life given by John Snelgrove, one of the founding pastors of The Vine in Hong Kong. When he opened with the statement, “One of the greatest dangers today in the Kingdom of God is jealousy”, I knew it’s gonna be a great message 🙂

He shared briefly a recent experience he had with a local church leader who was throwing shades to another church by saying, “Yeah, their church is growing, but  _____________…” 

“Get off your ‘buts’!” said Pastor John (directed to us obviosuly, not to that leader).

That’s right. I am also tired of the many “but”s in which complaints and mockery always follow. As someone who likes to follow ministry leaders on social media, I have been shocked by the lack of grace many times. Is not honouring and speaking well of one another a teaching of the Lord?

Drawing from Matthew 20 and Phillip Yancey’s well-known book What’s So Amazing About Grace, John left us with two incredible lessons:

1) When we are jealous about others, we are actually jealous about God’s generosity;

2) Develop this mindset when you are still young: don’t get caught up in the world’s ranking, for the way the world ranks men is not how God’s Kingdom works. 

After the message, some visitors decided to put their faith in Christ. What followed was a beautiful communion. John said, “Many church services often let the pastors, deacons, and elders take the bread and wine first, but today, we will do something different: we will serve these new ones first.” The new believers were then served bread and wine. Meanwhile, he also asked the Philippino sisters, who laboured six days a week as maids, to partake of the bread and wine before the rest of us did. This “reversed” kind of serving expresses the beauty of Matthew 20:16, “So the last will be first, and the first last.”

May we learn to honour one another!

Reflection: Subversive Christianity: Imaging God in a Dangerous Time by Brian Walsh

N.T. Wright recommended it; so I read it. Speaking of idolatry…

Okay, I was half-joking. Wright encouraged believers who wanted to understand more about Christian worldviews to pick up this book, and so I did, because I hardly knew the definition of a “worldview” and why a believer needs such a “worldview”. Speaking of stupidity…

This book was first published in 1992 and was republished in 2014 with a postscript added in responses to the world change over the gap of 22 years. This book has received quite a mix of reactions: some love it; some find it quite disappointing. I think I kind of understand both types of response.

Readers can find this book dull because, although short in terms of length, it is not an easy-read for genral audience. The academic tone made chapter three especailly dry to read. Some may also find Walsh not politcally “neutral” enough in this book. His critique of political parties such as the Bush Administration can get quite personal at times. His critique of Fukuyama is also lengthy in a way that blows the book out of portion. Some may also find it offensive (certainly not me) that Walsh compares songwriter Cockburn and his songs to Jeremiah and his prophetic words.

With all these sections after sections of comments on political parties and social systems, many readers probably end up with an impression taht Walsh has replaced the gospel with the hope to reconstruct the world by human effort. At the same, this suspicion is left confused with Walsh’s assertion that the Kingdom of God, as the restoration of creation, is not something we produce (pg. 94).

Notwithstanding the above, I still find the book worth reading with the following reasons:

  1. Walsh’s emphasis on our primary identities being image-bearers. One cannot deny the fact that many presentations of the gospel today begin with Genesis 3. Walsh nails it when he says we live in an image-conscious society just like the 6th century babylonians, yet just as the Israelites in those days, our experience of exile “cannot define reality for us”. Walsh also states beautifully that both female and male are equal co-partners and gardeners who function as stewards of creation (pg. 22). Work is therefore a form of worship where we serve our neighbour with stewardly care of creation.
  1. Walsh presents the concept of human having dominion over creation in a refreshing way. To have dominion over the creation, according to Walsh, means to follow the one we call Domine: Lord. To have dominion means ”to pick up the cross and follow Him” ; “to lay down one’s life for that which we have dominion over”; “to sacrifice one’s power and one’s gain for the sake of the other”. 
  1. Walsh pleas for a wake-up call for the Church. “While the Church is fighting among themselves, we are falling into a deeper sleep.” writes Walsh (pg. 30). While our sleep has made us insensitive to the spirits of the age, causing us to live a dualistic life, we have also forgotten the real battle is between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Darkness.
  2. Walsh emphasises the need of lament. Because of our deep sleep, the Church has forgotten how to lament like Jeremiah. To be a prophetic people, we need to lament over the sickness of our society while bringing hope by initiating self-critique and passionate speaking.
  1. Walsh offers sharp criticism towards idolisation of capitalism, nationalism, scientism, technicism, and economism, etc.
  2. Believe it or not, this is actually my favourite part, and I give Walsh lots of respect for it: Walsh, as a reformed Christian, criticises the “over-intellectualisation of the reformed faith”.  The intellectualisation of the Christian faith “makes professing Christ into a matter of saying ‘I do’ to a system of theological dogmas rather than I do to a bridegroom named Jesus who wants to enter into a relationship of passionate covenant keeping with you and me”. As a result, faith becomes static instead of dynamic, and Christians become reluctant to let reality inform our worldview. This humility is refreshing.
  3. Walsh encourages an active waiting for a miracle, that is, a full redemption of every aspect of our lives. What does an active waiting look like?“If your hope is to be found in a heavenly liar that is totally discontinuous with this earthly existence, then it is not surprising if the way in which that hope is manifest in simply in so-called spiritual exercises like fellowship church-going and personal evangelism. If however one has a hope in a new creation, a restoration of the creational life, then mundane things like buying fields behind enemy lines are powerful symbols of that hope. (p.92)

I also find the ending of the postscript quite inspiring,

“Build houses in a culture of homelessness. Plant gardens in polluted and contested soil. Get married in a culture of sexual consumerism. Make commitments in a world where we want to always keep our options open . Multiply in a world of debt. Have children at then of shirty. Seek shalom in a violent world of geo-political conflict and economic disparity. This is Jeremiah’s\s word to the exiles. This is Jeremiah’s subversive word to us. And in this vision we just might see, with Jeremiah, a future with hop. This is what means to work and wait for a miracle. This remains at the heart of a subversive Christianity.” (p. 124)