Book in Review: "God of the Mundane"

Matthew Redmond's book, "The God of the Mundane: Reflections on Ordinary Life for Ordinary People" is both honest and thought provoking as Redmond openly expresses his struggles with monotony and living an average life. I appreciated this honesty and though written with a slightly disparaging tone, Redmond addresses an important topic that is often overlooked. As a young man living a pretty ordinary life myself, I can relate and agree with Redmond! God is a God of the mundane and the everyday.

I appreciated the emphasis put in this book on being "faithful where God has placed you." This is not the glamorous or even radical Christianity we often admire, and perhaps none of us will even see the fruit of what we have done in our respective lifetimes; but God sees it. In my favorite chapter of the book ("Nobody wants to be George Bailey") Redmond attacks legalism very hard as he describes the underlying arrogance in our hearts when we need to do something "BIG" for the Lord: "We wallow in some kind of faux humility, never realizing that it is really ego that thinks, 'if I cannot see it, it must not be there.'"

My problem with this book is not as much with what Redmond did say, but what he left out. Redmond spends much ink in this short book on the idea that when we work we "push back against the effects of the fall." While I agree with this, I do not agree that this deserves such an emphasis. An atheist can be a very good baker or a very good dentist, but the nature of his work alone does not give him eternal significance before God. Scripture shows time and time again that God is much more concerned about our hearts (their condition and attitude) than the external output.

I wish Redmond wrote more about worship. As Christians everything we do, from the most mundane cleaning toilets to the extravagance of preaching the gospel Billy Graham style--is all worship that is acceptable unto God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, "whatsoever you do, do it all for the glory of God." Similarly in Colossians 3:23 Paul urges that: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord." A. W. Tozer writes in The Pursuit of God about the "inward gaze of the heart." When I sit in the car commuting from work I can gaze at God in worship. As I go fishing with my friends I can gaze at God in worship. Therefore I believe that it is not as much the nature of my work, but the posture of my heart in my work--that makes my work significant before God.

I also had a problem when Redmond, citing 1 Thessalonians 4, claims that Paul "calls the Thessalonians to live quietly and never calls them to evangelize." Redmond then adds that this seems "backward." I would say it seems "backward" because it is not exactly the whole story. I agree that we do not see Paul urging the Thessalonians to evangelize, but he isn't telling them to evangelize because they are doing it already! Earlier in 1 Thessalonians 1:8 Paul says, "The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it." The faith of the Thessalonians has been known everywhere! So why would Paul emphasize evangelism to a church that is busting out of the seams and incessantly proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ? He wouldn't and that is why he didn't.

I think this can be dangerous because our tendency in America (or at least my tendency) is to be quiet. To not speak up and to just do my thing. There is a balance here that is important: Do your work as unto God in beautiful and quiet worship--but always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in you. In fact, look for those opportunities! I thought Redmond swung the pendulum just a little too far to the side of just work quietly and be faithful side.

"The God of the Mundane" was good overall, but it did leave a lot out that could have been beneficial.


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