Book Review: Ordinary by Tony Merida

In a world being inundated with books calling for a radical, weird, or crazy kind of Christianity it is refreshing to see someone write a book about ordinary Christianity. Pastor Tony Merida, the founding pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, North Carolina shares his heart and soul in a book that calls Christians to make an impact on the world through ordinary Christianity. If this book had been written a few years ago it would have been quickly tossed aside. No one sells books talking about doing ordinary things do they? Aren’t we all looking for the glamorous and romantic idea of selling off our goods, downsizing our lifestyle, or moving overseas to impact unreached people groups for the glory of God and the sake of the nations?

ordinary-book-cover-tony-meridaTony Merida is convinced that we can make an impact by practicing ordinary Christianity through such things as humble acts of service, loving our neighbors, and showing hospitality towards others. Tony begins the book by sharing how a simple Bible study on social justice in which he prepared for a youth group shook the very core of his faith causing him to reevaluate everything he had ever taught or believed in.

The foundation for the book is calling Christians to “do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God” – Micah 6:8. The book looks at practical ordinary ways which we can make a difference in the world without compromising the Gospel. Merida shares many of the same struggles that we all face when confronting the issues of social justice. Many churches and ministries lean too far towards social justice issues and neglect the Gospel while others do the complete opposite. Merida brings balance to both sides while challenging our perceptions of social justice issues and particularly those who aren’t really sure what they need to do.

The book begins drawing heavily on the life of William Wilberforce who was a prominent leader in the movement to abolish the slave trade in the early 1800’s. The reader is encouraged through a brief cursory look at his life and his desire to humbly submit himself to the Lord through a life of meditating on God’s word and through prayer.

Merida calls us to surrender our lives to meditate on the Word of God believing the Word will cause ordinary Christians to live extraordinary lives.

“Personal heart transformation doesn’t happen simply by information transfer. It happens, as you adore God, based on His revelation of Himself if the Word. If we can behold Him, admire Him, esteem, Him, enjoy Him, be captivated by Him, then we will imitate Him.”

This short book (five chapters) is packed with much practical and theological help to show us how to live with Gospel-intentionality being a voice for the voiceless and a father to the fatherless while staying rooted in the truth of the Gospel. I’ve read many books that have a strong focus on alleviating suffering and fail to stress the importance of the Gospel, but this book always brings the reader back to the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

“Mercy ministry is about alleviating suffering. Those who want to alleviate suffering should want to alleviate more than temporary suffering. They should also want to alleviate eternal suffering, which can only come through faith in Christ.”

Tony Merida shows us that being an ordinary Christian works. It works to further the Gospel by being the hands and feet of Jesus to a world who is in desperate need of something beyond simply having their felt needs met. Ordinary is a great resource for those who are trying to understand the difference between sensationalism and practicing a life of justice and mercy.

About the Author:
Tony Merida is the founding pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, NC. Tony is the author of Faithful Preaching, co-author of Orphanology, and serves as a general editor and as contributor to the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series (B&H Publishing Group) along with David Platt and Danny Akin. He is married to Kimberly, with whom he has five adopted children.

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