Christian Retailing

Pastor advocates ‘ordinary Christianity’ Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Wednesday, 05 November 2014 10:43 AM America/New_York

Tony Merida became a Christian in college, went to seminary, led a church in New Orleans and then joined the faculty of the seminary he had attended. Occasionally he ministered to the poor, but he identified most with his roles as pastor, preacher and professor.

It wasn’t until later that he became passionate about mercy-and-justice ministries. At a student camp, he was asked to lead a daily Bible study on the poor. Merida tells how that experience changed his life in Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down (9781433684166, $12.99), releasing Jan. 1 from B&H Books (B&H Publishing Group).

Ordinary“I began to see afresh God’s concern for the poor,” he writes. The Bible’s repeated emphasis on what he calls the “trio of the vulnerable: the widow, the orphan and the sojourner” particularly captured his attention.

Merida then considered how his life might better reflect what God’s Word says about mercy and justice. Soon he and his wife made great changes in their lives, including adopting five children and joining the fight against human trafficking.

Merida is founding pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, as well as author of Faithful Preaching, co-author of Orphanology and general editor of the “Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary” series along with David Platt and Danny Akin.

His new book is a call to care about what God cares about, and highlights ordinary actions that “can make an extraordinary impact.”

“I want to push back against sensationalism and ‘rock-star Christianity,’ and help people understand that they can make a powerful impact by practicing ordinary Christianity,” Merida writes.

The chapters examine how to love one’s neighbor, show hospitality, care for the fatherless, advocate for the voiceless, and walk with God in humility. Merida points out the motivations for doing justice as a Christian: We are made in the image of God, we have been redeemed, and our Redeemer will return to restore this world.

Positing love as the basis for service, Merida insists that love always includes action.

“To embrace mercy ministry under the shadow of the cross means to get involved personally,” he writes.

He also emphasizes prayer, referring to it as not merely preparation for the work, but often the work itself.

Throughout the book, Merida examines the life of abolitionist William Wilberforce, whom he finds worthy of emulation. Along with various Scripture passages, Wilberforce’s example is a reminder of God’s delight in using ordinary people to reflect His justice in the world.

Merida tells readers: “You are a great candidate for such usefulness.”

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