The Power of Weakness by Keith Giles
Review by Herb Montgomery
Director, author, and speaker of Renewed Heart Ministries (RHM)
Keith Giles hits it out of the ballpark again.
I met Keith last year through a mutual friend (Greg Boyd), and I have found him to be a true brother in the Kingdom. Moreover, I absolutely love his books. (Other books by Keith that I have enjoyed include his titles: This Is My Body: Ekklesia as God Intended; The Gospel:For Here Or To Go; The Top 10 Things Every Christian Should Know; and War is Not Christian.)
Although for a much shorter period of time than Keith, I have been involved with New Testament-style open, mutually participatory church gatherings. At RHM we call them HeartGroups. One of the biggest challenges I have encountered is the false idea held by many that they are not qualified enough, educated enough, or “something” enough to be able to share what Jesus is doing in their lives with others and significantly contribute to the Kingdom. Sadly, they feel they either have nothing to contribute, or that what they have to contribute somehow isn’t good enough. So many people have let these feelings of inadequacy stop them.
Keith quashes these fears, which is why I am recommending this small volume to each HeartGroup in our RHM network. It’s the fact that we ARE so inadequate that guarantees our usefulness to Jesus and His Kingdom. Our weakness is God’s greatest asset.
Jesus’ Kingdom, with this just as much as with all else, turns our normal thinking on its head. Keith passionately and effectively captures this concept. We don’t need better programs, more talented leaders, and intensely gifted specialists. What we need is more weakness. God’s love is revealed through normal Joe’s and Nancy’s just like you and me. That’s right, you read that correctly, what we need is more weakness. It’s the very stuff God’s strength is perfected in. This is the stuff God confounds the wise and overcomes the enemy’s strongholds with. And isn’t it just what you’d expect, this kind of upside down reality from a God who overcame His enemy by allowing that enemy to put Him to death? It’s the paradox of all paradoxes. And the Power of Weakness is an excellent volume that pulls back the veil, revealing that just like Moses, Gideon, David, Peter, Paul, the woman at the well, and others, what we think will give success to God’s Kingdom is many times incorrect. And that which we think disqualifies us from being able to contribute something beautiful to God’s radical Kingdom of other-centered love is, in many cases, exactly what makes us God’s choice for the job.
If you have ever felt like you weren’t qualified enough, not good enough, not talented enough to be used by God in a significant way in the Kingdom, think again. This book is for you.
For those who are also familiar with my work in the book Finding the Father (on the challenge of believing in a good God in the midst of so much human suffering), I will say from the beginning you will wrestle with Keith’s chapter on Paul. Not because Keith is wrong, but simply because he uses slightly different language than I do. But once you get to Chapter 12 (The Power of Suffering), it will all “click” as Keith brings it full circle. And if you’re like me, you too will want to shout it from the rooftops. It must be remembered that the idea of paying a penalty so that some may go to Heaven is strangely absent from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. On the other hand, death and SUFFERING at the hands of one’s enemy as a way of subversively defeating enemies through self-sacrificial love (John 12.31), delivering those held down and oppressed, and restoring those very same people to a world where love reigns here and now, are ideals that are all over the place. This chapter is the climax of The Power of Weakness with its all-important, paradigm-shifting element of Christ’s teachings.
Lastly, one of the most cherished elements of Keith’s books which I find most valuable is that Keith really does forward Jesus’ definition of the Gospel. This is a game changer for any who have seen the contrast between how Jesus defined the Gospel and how contemporary, westernized Christianity defines the Gospel.
I’ll share with you one statement from the book in the hope it moves you to get a copy and read the whole volume for yourself:
“When we look at passages where Jesus sends the disciples out into the surrounding area to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom, it doesn’t make sense to conclude that they were sharing with the community a message of substitutionary death for their sins. It also doesn’t fit with the text to assume that they offered salvation to those who repeated a carefully worded prayer of faith so that they could go to heaven when they died. Obviously, whatever it was that the disciples went out preaching, it wasn’t anything like this. The Gospel preached by the disciples didn’t have anything to do with the finer points of the doctrine of the atonement, a subject which they exhibited zero understanding about. So, what was it that the disciples went out preaching? We see the answer in Matthew 9:5, Luke 9:6 and Luke 10:9. It was simply the Gospel of the Kingdom. The disciples were sent out to proclaim ‘The Kingdom of God is near you, and then to demonstrate this by casting out demons and healing the sick. This was the very same message that we see Jesus publicly proclaiming over and over again in the Gospels” (Keith Giles, The Power of Weakness, pp. 9–10).
If you feel that somehow you don’t have what it takes to help others discover and experience Christ’s kingdom, then The Power of Weakness is a must read for you as you could not be more wrong. God has chosen the weak to confound the mighty, the foolish to challenge the wise. Again, what we need is MORE weakness.
I cannot recommend Keith’s new book, The Power of Weakness, strongly enough.
Keep living in love, and loving like Christ.
And, through the paradox of weakness, go enlarge the Kingdom.
I love you guys,
I’ll see you next week.