Do you remember that radio message about foster care that aired a couple years ago?
It began with a man or a woman who sounded totally clueless and bumbling, yet their heart was in just the right place. It ended with something like "You don't have to be perfect, you just have to be there."
This book "Ordinary" reminded me of that.
Our world is sad, tired, suffering, enslaved, imprisoned, violent, addicted, and dying.
And all of that can be heard echoing through our neighborhoods.
If you're brave enough to watch the news, or to drive down a city street, or talk to a neighbor, you're going to realize that there is So Much Pain crying out for healing. So much weariness crying out for rest. So much hurt crying out for justice. So much that needs to be done!
And you'll feel insufficient to do anything about it.
Tony Merida had never seen a Bible study on justice before he taught one. He was supposed to teach on the poor, and he never expected it to break his heart right in half. And open his eyes. And fill his hands with work to do.
It's overwhelming when you think about how much injustice there really is.
The clothes I'm wearing were made overseas, likely by somebody who is overworked and under compensated- but American made items are so expensive.
Somewhere today, a girl chose abortion because she was told not to come home pregnant and my house has empty rooms in it- but taking in a stranger would disrupt my life.
In many places today, multiple people panhandled for their next meal- I'm planning next week's grocery list.
The lady who checked out my purchases at the store is a single Mom who sees her kids for half-an-hour at night before they all fall asleep.
There's a 90 something year-old man down the street from me who needs somebody to shovel his walk, but it's so awkward to ask him.
With big issues or smaller ones, it's so easy to ignore them as long as possible, feel a pang of sympathy, and then continue on with my life.
And once I see what's wrong, what do I do about it?
What do we need to get moving, to get us acting in whatever capacity and whatever sphere we have available to us?
Tony Merida says simply "The Gospel melts our hearts."
Guilt may force us into a brief reaction, but it won't sustain a whole-life change.
He argues that Grace alone will get down deep into our blood, become a fire in our bones, and lead to a life of mercy.
He then describes a life of mercy in terms of Neighbor Love, Kingdom Hospitality, Care for the Vulnerable, Courageous Advocacy and God Centered Humility.
Theologically, this is all rooted in Creation:Redemption:Restoration.
Practically, it shows itself when people do the hard, unsung work of caring for orphans. Caring for sex-trafficking victims. Caring for the elderly. Caring for those with special needs.
Ministry in prisons. Ministry to local police departments. Ministry to cancer patients. Ministry to caregivers.
In whatever shape the opportunity comes, when you take it, you're participating in the Restoration.
"The Samaritan cared for the person on his path. I don't think one church can do everything, nor can one person. The question is, who is the dying man in your road? Who has God made you aware of that needs mercy?Such individuals are all around us." ~ Tony Merida
I thank B&H Publishing and Cross Focused Review for my copy of Ordinary.