This post series is a way for me to continue processing and praying through the concepts and convictions found in Holy Subversion: Allegiance to Christ in an Age of Rivals by Trevin Wax. I’m covering the seven modern-day “Caesars” that steal our allegiance from Christ and considering how these might be demolished for His sake. Read Part 1 here to get your bearings and learn about the first Caesar, then come on back for discussion on the second and third. Future posts will cover the final four, so don’t go off too far . . .
The Caesar of Success
Do the followers of Jesus Christ live much differently than people who are not pursuing Him? I’m not sure about the other followers, but I know about me. And I need a good internal shake when it comes to life goals and pursuits, because mine are rather flimsy. Wax tells me why my visions don’t hold up the weight of an everlasting Kingdom: It’s because I have gotten mixed up in the world’s definition of success.
“Instead of agreeing with the world’s definition of success (comfort, luxury, stability, wealth), we must redefine it according to the vision of the kingdom of God.”1
My definition of success needs rewriting based on a few of these biblical principles out lined by Wax:
- Rely on the Spirit, not your own strength, wisdom, power, or ability to manipulate. Depend on the Spirit, don’t chase results measured on the world’s scale.
- Pursue God’s fame and glory by following in the Messiah’s footsteps—footsteps that led Christ to the cross of suffering.
- Live a life poured out for the sake of others for the advancement of the Kingdom.
- Build the Body of Christ by unity, not sameness—battle against the fragmentation of age, race, worship styles, cultures. “When we begin intentionally inviting people who are different from us to our fellowship, we are signaling to the world that the kingdom understanding of success differs from the world’s perspective.”2
“When set against the backdrop of Christ’s sufferings, our petty visions of success are unmasked for what they are: superficial and self-centered.”3
The Caesar of Money
Closely tied to the Caesars of Self and Success is the one of Money. We gain a defining sense of Self when we have Success that earns us Money. We use that Money to buy things to define the Self we want to be. Then we pursue more Success, and on it goes.
Putting a stop to this dizzying pursuit, Wax knocks down the building blocks we’ve stacked together. He reminds us that we are image-bearers of God who work to the glory of the Father, not to the glory of Self for the pursuit of Success and the hoarding of Money.
In summary: We work so that we can have more to share. We are to make eternal investments with what we have—anything else is a waste. We should astound others with our generosity.
Reflection and Application
A few things have continued to gnaw at me since reading these chapters.
First, I need greater dependence upon the Spirit. I need help to know which work projects to accept, how I should be involved in Kingdom work, how to love the people around me. I’m tired of living for the world’s scale of success; it’s not enough.
Second, I feel a growing confirmation that my writing is a gift/talent to steward for God’s fame and the good of others—to fill this patch of sky with the goodness and glories of God. Worldly recognition does not make my writing valuable. It is valuable because I am God’s image-bearer and I get to write about His unfailing grace and mercy.
Finally, my heavenly investments have been slim. If the resources God has entrusted to me have merely been spent on my own comfort and soothing, what a waste! I want to be a steward, not a leech. “We subvert the world’s preoccupation with wealth-building by focusing on eternal investments that may not pay earthly dividends.”4
1. Trevin Wax, Holy Subversion: Allegiance to Christ in an Age of Rivals (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2010), 62.
2. Ibid., 68.
3. Ibid., 67.
4. Ibid., 82.