Book Review

The Extraordinary in the Ordinary

I weary of the lingo I hear so often in our present Christian culture.  We are always looking for bigger and better, prettier and wiser, cutting edge and radical.  Radical is so attractive.  It seems sacrificial.  We want significant ministry and lives.  Such a search can leave people feeling insignificant and useless in God’s kingdom if their story isn’t dramatic.  But God is most at work in the ordinariness of life . . . and that should be a huge encouragement and a call to look around at God’s amazing work going on in the here and now.

Michael Scott Horton, in his book Ordinary, relates the story of a woman who writes about her college years, “I began to yearn for something more than a comfortable Christianity focused on saving souls and being a generally respectable Republican Texan.” And so she dug in to seek out a radical Christianity.  She entered college restless . . .  seeking opportunities to make a difference.  Then, she went to Africa to seek it out in service.  After spending time in various “cutting edge” Christian communities she wrote:

Now, I’m a thirty-something with two kids living a more or less ordinary life.  And what I’m slowly realizing is that, for me, being in the house all day with a baby and a two year old is a lot more scary and a lot harder than being in a war-torn African village.  What I need courage for is the ordinary, the daily every-dayness of life.  Caring for a homeless kid is a lot more thrilling to me than listening well to the people in my home.  Giving away clothes and seeking out edgy Christian communities requires less of me than being kind to my husband on an average Wednesday morning or calling my mother back when I don’t feel like it”

Where does everyday growth in faith and trust manifest itself?  Where are we called to be sacrificial?  It happens most frequently and more deeply in your relationship with the neighbor next to whom we have lived for years, through our spouse who knows us better than anyone else, in gathering with our friends for a meal or a drink, in the car with our kids as we drive to school every day. 

Michael Horton writes, “Changing the world can be a way of actually avoiding the opportunities we have every day, right where God has placed us, to glorify and enjoy Him and to enrich the lives of others.”

If we want to make a difference in our culture then we need to start by applying God’s extraordinary love in our ordinary circumstances.  In a culture that longs for cutting edge,that is radical.