Anne blogs at Front Porch, Inspired about surrendering everyday living for sacred purposes. She and her husband, Jay, are founders of a ministry called The Bridge, focusing on missional living and advocacy for youth in vulnerable places of life. She holds an MA in Teaching Languages (TESOL and Spanish) and is a lover of words and the Word, culture and communication. Jay and Anne have five kids, a front door that can’t stay closed, and an abundance of messy, holy chaos at their neighborhood center/home in Iowa – of all places.
Are we more in love with the idea of changing the word than actually changing the world?
This is the searching question posed by author, Eugene Cho in his book Overrated. His book is filled with frank reflections and an authenticity I've rarely experienced from an author. As a follow of Jesus committed to world-changing and seeking justice, Cho shows up vulnerable, admitting, “I confess to neglecting a posture of humility in which I must be aware that I, too, must change." This book explores in a real-world, modern-day terms the truth of the Gospel and what it looks like to follow Jesus.
So, why read this book?
Because, as a culture, we are steeped in grand notions and lovely lingo for all things Christian. We value the idea of social justice but don’t know how to build relationships with those suffering injustices. Mission projects are esteemed, but mainly when completed over there and summarized with selfies and hashtags. Living a lifestyle that is on mission, complete with sacrifice and surrender, is less appealing than ever. Maybe we’ve become more concerned with telling a good story instead of being determined to “simply live a good story – a story of faith, hope, courage, sacrifice, and justice,” says Cho.
And, yes, I understand what Cho is saying. Truth is, I am inspired by ideas but less inclined to put feet in them and walk them out. In doing so, I effectively avoid potential risks to my comfort and security and personal space. After all, it’s easier to talk about someday and over there than today and right here in my own home, neighborhood, and community. Yet, an all-knowing God planted my feet down on Seneca Street, and He's teaching me the beauty and cost of faith that is lived out. As Cho puts it, we love the idea of compassion and justice…"until there is a personal cost to living it out." Certainly, I need this kind of book to challenge me and to affirm how I believe God is guiding us.
Why did I choose this book for a Book Journey?
I don’t know that I chose this book, honestly. I had never heard of Eugene Cho, but I was searching on Amazon for a similar title. When I saw the title “Overrated,” something was stirred up in me; that single word stopped me. I started reading the summary and reviews out loud to my husband, Jay. As founders of a Christian ministry, we were feeling the pressure to talk bigger than we were living, to appear more than we are. Unfortunately, this happens in individual lives as well as in ministry, especially in this work God’s called us to – missional living, where programs don’t exist and numbers can’t be tallied and photo ops are minimal. Although we didn't have the words (or word) to pin-point our struggle, this book's title suddenly brought clarity and focus to months of wrestling.
And, Jay and I talked about the concept of being “overrated” for days before I even started reading the book.
Then, as soon as I did begin reading, I knew: Eugene has been on my blog. Just kidding, of course – but unknowingly we've shared words and walked down similar paths. And yet, he's processed this journey at a much deeper level, and I'm grateful to this author for how he wraps phrases around concepts we've been trying to make sense of for years.
Overall, this book speaks into the desires we all have to make a difference and to do justice. Yet, it encourages us go beyond the ideas and talk, stepping into a practical, down-to-earth expression of faith in our everyday lives. I look forward to journeying chapter by chapter with you, as we consider this book and how it applies to our lives. I hope you can read along!
This book review is the beginning of our first Book Journey at Front Porch Inspired.
Join in as we journey through this book. Below are links to weekly summaries and discussion questions of different chapters.
Click here for more details on Book Journeys and how you can join in.