Sunday, January 29, 2017

Killing Us Softly by Efrem Smith

This 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.”

You can read the first chapter here.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Efrem Smith is the president of World Impact, an urban-missions and church planting organization. He is a teaching pastor at Bayside Midtown Church in Sacramento, California.

NavPress, 192 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

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