For this month’s B&H Book Review, I chose Tony Merida’s book Ordinary: How To Turn The World Upside Down.
While this book is a slim volume with a little over 100 pages (125 to be exact), the pages between the front and back cover pack a punch.
From the back cover…
“Ordinary is not a call to be more radical. If anything, it is a call to the contrary. The kingdom of God isn’t coming with light shows, and shock and awe, but with lowly acts of service. Tony Merida wants to push back against sensationalism and ‘rock star Christianity,’ and help people understand that they can make a powerful impact by practicing ordinary Christianity.
Through things such as humble acts of service, neighbor love, and hospitality, Christians can shake the foundations of the culture. In order to see things happen that have never happened before, Christians must do what Christians have always done—Christians need to become more ordinary.
Let’s think together about how we, ordinary people, doing ordinary things, might turn the world upside down.”
Some of my favorite quotes from the book…
“Ordinary is a call to, like Job, wear justice.”
“Indifference and passivity is the failure to love. We must learn how to love again, which always involves action.”
“Jesus loves diversity,” and “heaven will be populated with every tribe and tongue.”
“Don’t let the financial cost rob you of the duty and blessing of hospitality.”
“We’ve allowed the culture to shape our views more than the gospel.”
“The ordinary way of the kingdom is the way of humility, not self-glorification.”
“Prayerlessness clearly demonstrates a belief in our own self-sufficiency.”
Paraphrased and partial quotes that I’m still processing…
The world looks for the big and bold, but this book challenges us to carry the opposite torch by living out the gospel in a humble manner through lowly acts of service.
We have a tendency to embrace movements—provide a few dollars, grab a T-shirt, don a bracelet—and then move on with our lives.
We can get so caught up doing religious activities that we ignore showing God’s grace “to the least of these.”
We can’t be motivated by guilt, nor guilt other’s into action.
Lowly acts of service include mercy ministries and global evangelism. We have desperate neighbors all around us, but we constantly miss opportunities to minister to their needs.
One person can’t do everything. One church can’t do everything. “The Samaritan cared for the person in his path.” Who is the person—the Samaritan in your path—who needs ministered to?
Broader topics discussed in this book
• Neighborly Love
• Kingdom Hospitality
• Caring for the Vulnerable
• Courageously Advocating for the Voiceless
• God-Centered Humility
Something Tony highlights: the stark difference between entertaining and hospitality
Entertaining is often:
• about the host
• impressing others
Hospitality is about:
• the guests
• serving others
“Jesus’ hospitality was counter culture and inclusive in that He hung out with riffraff and the needy, and He certainly didn’t try to show off His fine china.”
Part of being ordinary means opening our hearts, and opening our hearts means:
• Death to Pride
• Death to Paybacks
• Death to Sensationalism
• Death to Partiality
• Death to Self-Indulgence
A call to action:
“Value people because you treasure their Maker. Don’t sit idly by while others mistreat God’s treasured possession. When we don’t act on behalf of God’s image bearers, we belittle God Himself.”
A Final Reflection…
This book has definitely challenged me to think differently, and re-evaluate what I’m doing ministry wise. Life is constantly hectic, and I tend to make forty-nine excuses for why I can’t do something for the Kingdom. Not that I don’t do things for the Kingdom, because I do. I’m involved in several ministries. Yet, this book has challenged me to rethink the way I view Kingdom ministry.
• It’s not about outlandish programs, but more about what we can do (willing do) with a humble heart for those who cross our path.
• It’s also about being open to God’s prompting, and less about being financially stable.
• It’s about being sacrificial on a different level—sacrificing personal time for one-on-one opportunities that are out of our comfort zone—those opportunities God puts right before us to serve, but we are so busy being busy that we walk right past them, or blatantly ignore them on purpose.
• It’s about speaking up for the voiceless.
• It’s about listening—truly listening—to another’s plight.
• It’s about faith—humble faith—in action.
• It’s about the Wilber Wilberforce kind of reformation.
• It’s about prayer and communion—genuine prayer and genuine communion—with God, followed by action.
If you are looking for a feel good full of fluff book to read, this isn’t that kind of book. There may be only 125 pages, but the words between the covers will make you stop and think differently about what it really means to serve others not through outlandish feats with lots of glitz and glam, but through ordinary acts of humble service.