Recently, Winepress Publishing sent me a review copy of their new book by Steve Schaefer entitled Living in the Overlap. Steve currently works as a Managing Producer in the International Programming department of CBN WorldReach, a ministry that produces evangelistic television programs and conducts humanitarian activities around the world. He has a MA in Biblical Studies from Regent University‘s School of Divinity.
The book explorers the Now/Not Yet tension that Christians deal with. The kingdom of God has come but not in the fullness; only at his second coming will the fullness of the kingdom of God become a reality. Living in that Now/Not Yet tension creates confusion and stress as we struggle with what we read in scripture and what we experience in life.
The book opens with an explanation of the overlap or the in-between time. Schaefer explains the idea of the kingdom of God, specifically that the kingdom comes in two stages. The first stage arrived at Christ’s first coming. The second stage will arrive at his second coming. The in-between time, the now and the not yet then creates a tension between trying to live in a partially fulfilled kingdom.
The author attempts to provide strategies for kingdom living by tackling issues such as praying for healing, walking by faith, temptation, and loving others.
Schaefer put together a fascinating discussion regarding praying for healing. It is important to note that in the Acts of the Apostles, the disciples were able to bring healing to people they encountered. Maybe I should clarify that by saying that they themselves did not heal but healing came through them. Jesus even remarked to the disciples that they would do greater gifts than he when the Spirit arrives. Healing may very well occur as we pray for people. Then again, it may not. That is the implications of living in a not-fully-implemented kingdom.
A second chapter that showed great promise spoke of keeping our focus. In this chapter, the author discusses the paradoxical idea that the lack of choices actually creates greater freedom. When we limit our focus, we free ourselves from the demands and stresses that can consume our time and energy, allowing us to truly do what we have been called and chosen to do.
The book could best be described as a primer. The language was simple; it was an easily read book. While that isn’t bad in and of itself, the literature on kingdom living that has been in the marketplace has grown over the past decade and much of it included the practical aspects of kingdom living. So while it offered some good content, it did not, in my opinion differentiate itself effectively from other kingdom-oriented books. This would be a decent book for new or young Christians.
I also felt the author went overboard trying to justify his content through the overuse of terms like “Scholar.” Many quotations were preceded by the phrase “Old Testament Scholar…” or “New Testament Scholar…” as if he wasn’t sure that anyone would trust his content or that he wanted to make sure that the readers knew other smart people agreed with him. Maybe it was semantics, but it just got old as the book developed.
I also thought the author had at times an overly simplified view of living. Maybe I am jaded by experience, but theology and Christian living is a complicated, gray-area-filled journey. I think the author over-simplified it particularly in the discussion on Faith.
Overall, I thought the book was decent. On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being a “knock-your-socks-off” read, I would give this a 2.5.
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