Merida calls Christians to ‘ordinary’ life, gospel focus
    September 8 2015 by Micheal Pardue, BR Book Review

    There are many opinions about how Christians should engage culture in America. There are, however, no voices that believe it is acceptable to live passively amid the moral void around us. Lostness is pervasive and Christians seem to be doing little to steer the culture in a different direction.
     
    Tony Merida has written Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down as a call for Christians to examine their lives and consider how they might combat the darkness with the daily orientation of their lives – their ordinary lives.

     
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    From the earliest moments of the Church, Christ has used ordinary people to further the message of His Kingdom. The early Church carried out their mission as ordinary people. It became the central focus of their lives and they oriented their actions around the commission that Christ had given. Merida denies the idea that God can only use “super Christians.”
     
    The priorities of Christ must become the priorities of each member of His body. Merida centers his book on five areas where Christians can focus their everyday efforts to have a temporal and an eternal impact: (1) neighbor love, (2) kingdom hospitality, (3) care for the vulnerable, (4) courageous advocacy and (5) God-centered humility.
     
    The call to love those who are in need reoccurs throughout the book. Merida names this “neighbor love.” Carefully walking through the parable of the Good Samaritan, Merida advocates for “mercy ministry under the shadow of the cross.” He says needs around the world are great and many people are suffering. “Until we pick them up from the road,” says Merida, “they won’t hear the good news.” He also provides a list of ideas to engage cross-focused ministries of mercy. He reminds his readers that “mercy ministry radically impacts the world.”
     
    Merida discusses hospitality at length as it is demonstrated in the biblical storyline. He argues that we must put five things to death: pride, paybacks, sensationalism, partiality and self-indulgence. These are not only counterproductive, but also prevent Christians from showing the hospitality modeled by Christ. He calls on Christians to open their doors to those who are in need: foster children, victims of human trafficking, aged-out orphans and sojourners. What a difference our lives could make if this became our ordinary mindset.
     
    Adoption is one of the great themes of the Bible. Though often ignored, the good news for every Christian is that God the Father chose you to be His child. This should give Christians a significant reason to care for the vulnerable. Merida pleads with Christians to take part in the care of those who are unable to care for themselves. He provides a wonderful scriptural accounting of God’s care for orphans. He provides a fresh and practical reminder of the accountability the body of Christ has for those who are powerless.
     
    Along with his wife, Kimberly, Merida asks Christians to advocate for the poor and powerless. They remind their readers that while we live in a country of relative peace and security, most of the world is not afforded that luxury. Many are subjected to unmentionable horrors and they have no one to speak on their behalf.
     
    Those who have the privilege of standing behind the Great Advocate as He pleads our case to the Father should, in turn, advocate for those who have no voice.
     
    Merida’s fifth focus is God-centered humility. By examining the life of William Wilberforce, he identifies four areas that led this humble man to greatness: conversion, scripture, prayer and the glory of God. The British abolitionist’s focus on these areas made him keenly aware of needs around Him and made him a force for good, justice and the cause of Christ.
     
    When we look at the world around us, our hearts are broken. We see hardship and persecution. We see myriads of people who suffer and die in obscurity. They have no advocate, they have no justice, and they experience no peace. Merida reminds us that “in your longing for justice, realize that you’re really longing for Jesus. For when Christ returns, we’ll have perfect justice.”
     
    (EDITOR’S NOTE – Micheal Pardue is pastor of First Baptist Icard, Connelly Springs.)

    9/8/2015 11:12:48 AM by Micheal Pardue, BR Book Review | with 0 comments
    Filed under: book review, Ordinary, Tony Merida




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