The last decade has seen a surge in Christians coming awake to social justice issues. Unfortunately, many engage social justice issues in a manner that’s devoid of the Gospel and many who claim to be most committed to the Gospel don’t believe these issues are a priority. In addition, many Christians want to make a practical difference in the world and do not know where to start, so they sit powerless believing the task is to big for them to engage. In his new book Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down, Tony Merida walks through the Bible showing ordinary Christians how they can make a difference through their everyday lives.
Merida takes Steve Timmis and Tim Chester’s phrase “ordinary people doing ordinary things” and asks how ordinary people can make a genuine difference in the world for the glory of God. Our tendency for so long as been to think that the only way to make a tangible difference in the world is to move to another nation and work, but Ordinary shows how carpenters, housewives, lawyers, plumbers, teachers, and doctors can turn the world upside down where they are right now.
Ordinary advocates for what we would often call “social justice” issues, but calls Christians to give attention to these issues from a Gospel-centered point of view. For example, Merida doesn’t advocate for adoption by slinging together heart wrenching orphan stories. He reminds Christians they were orphans who were separated from God because of sin. Through the Gospel, God adopts those who believe as his children, providing for us a motivation to be a father to the fatherless. In addition to the proper motivation for adoption, Merida provides volumes of biblical admonitions to care for orphans, stacking up evidence from both the Old and New Testaments.
Merida carries the same Gospel-centered focus into his discussion of hospitality. While many of us choose to treat our homes as fortresses where we escape from the world, he reminds us of the biblical command to show hospitality. Readers are rightfully reminded that hospitality is not about entertaining friends, but about sharing what we have in common and extending kindness to strangers. Again he piles on the biblical rationale for why Christians should do so and provides several ideas for ways in which Christians can open their homes for the sake of the Kingdom.
Christians would benefit from a careful reading of Ordinary. Tony Merida writes straightforwardly and succinctly, so a person who has not read many Christian books would find this enjoyable and easy to read. Most of all, Ordinary will guide the Christian into a greater understanding of what the Scripture teaches about Christian living. The Bible is the controlling influence in Merida’s argument, and his application accurately guides the Christian into how to put God’s word into practice. For the Christian who wants to know how to make an impact in the world around them, Ordinary is a great place to start.
(I received a complimentary copy of Ordinary through the Cross Focused Review program in exchange for an honest review.)