I had a mixed reaction to Tony Merida’s book, Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down, published by B&H Publishing in 2015. The premise was good. Christian faith isn’t about light shows and performance. Faith is lived out everyday in our ordinary lives. My concerns were not with the idea of practical faith, but with the insistence in how that faith would be accomplished.
The author explicitly states that salvation is a gift of grace (p. 24), so he is not describing a works-based system of salvation. However, he has added his own how-to list for what Christians must do. The author itemizes at least twelve things that Christians must do to love their neighbor, but the Bible has no such list that applies universally to all Christians.
“My point is that we must have an open heart/home toward people that extends beyond what’s comfortable…,” (p. 41).
“Every Christian must do something to care for the orphan,” (p. 80).
“Sometimes we must do emergency relief; but we must also tend to the matters of restoration and development,” (p. 82).
“So we must help provide financial aid,” (p. 84).
“First, churches must strengthen their relationships with orphanages,” (p. 85).
“Further, we must help our Christian businessmen and women get a vision for orphan care,” (p. 85).
On the positive side, the book challenges us to take care of our neighbors and addresses several social issues and taking Scripture back to the basics. I found the book to be a great mechanism for self-evaluation. It provides a way to examine what we each are individually doing to share God’s grace with our community.
I would recommend this book to mature Christians who understand the biblical mandate to love God and love others does not come with a specific to do list. We should let God challenge each individual to use the gifts and talents they have been given to advance and glorify the Kingdom of God in their own way.
Disclosure: A free copy of the book was provided in exchange for a review of the text.