I recently finished reading the new book my pastor just wrote called Overrated: Are We More in Love with the Idea of Changing the World than Actually Changing the World? I know they say don’t judge a book by its cover, but as a die-hard man of steel fan I couldn’t help but give the book a few style points from the get go.
Now, I must be transparent by saying that: Eugene is one of my pastors at Quest Church; much of my time is invested in working at the café Quest Church started, interning with the youth ministry where Eugene’s children and many other children from Quest attend, and sharing life with members of the Quest community. I was also given a free early copy of the book as part of a group of folks asked to share honest feedback about the book. Needless to say, I care for many who directly and indirectly had a hand in this book, which makes me biased. However, I think this also gives me a unique perspective on this book. To me this book is not just another book about justice or how to be a good Christian written by some “trendy pastor”, this book is a part of Eugene’s story and Eugene’s story is a story that intersects and influences my story every week. I have a small glimpse of the man “behind the mask” (or book cover), and as someone with that perspective I can honestly say that this book is an authentic and consistent continuation of the Christian love and discipleship I encounter in pastor Eugene weekly. Okay okay, enough blubbering about my pastor and my church, you want to know if the book is any good!
What This Book Isn’t
This book isn’t a step-by-step on how to live a super-star Christian life.
This book probably isn’t going to make you feel content with, or pat yourself on the back for, your approach to doing justice, loving mercy or walking humbly with God.
This book probably isn’t going to leave your assumptions about pursuing justice and Christian service unchallenged, or leave you believing that acts of service or justice are optional in the Christian faith.
This book isn’t for those who want to isolate their relationship with Jesus solely to individualistic intellectualism.
This book isn’t for those who want to remain unchanged by God as they attempt to build God’s kingdom.
And most importantly, this book is not the judgmental critique of a pastor who has all the right answers or a flawless story of success.
What This Book Is
This book is a reflection on many different stories of Christians trying to live out their faith through service, some very moving and challenging acts of service, others well-intentioned but lacking.
This book is probably going to make you reexamine the way you love the people in your community, city, country and world, and maybe even seek to change some of the ways you live out that love.
This book is probably going to challenge some of your preconceived beliefs about what social justice is and how Christians ought to approach it.
This book is for those who are continuously seeking to journey further into right relationship with God, self, others, and the rest of God’s creation.
This book is for any who wish to partake in God’s shalom, even if it is challenging, glamor-less, and maybe even downright confusing.
And most importantly, this book is the confession of a disciple of Jesus who has made mistakes, and is far from perfect, but continues to learn what it means to “do justice, love mercy or walk humbly with God”.
This book is also a great representation of Eugene’s punny sense of humor! It’s #Chotastic
How This Book Impacted Me
If I’m honest, I live in a city, go to a school, and am part of a culture that thinks “social justice” is hip and trendy. This book has caused me to reevaluate the way I want to partake in promoting global justice and contributing to God’s kingdom. It has caused me to reflect on where God may be calling me. I am scheduled to start my journey as a seminary student in two and a half weeks, but this book has enabled me to face many of the hard questions I was reluctant to deal with before, such as: Does knowing more theology really make me better at loving God and loving people? What is the most useful way to be used and useful in God’s world? Does the social status of “divinity student” boost my ego more than it does my desire to live into the Christian title I bear? Will seminary equip me with better skills, or just better ideas? What am I passionate about, how do I become an expert in that, and what are the best ways to improve and be improved by the things I’m passionate about? And lastly, am I more in love with the idea of changing the world than actually changing the world and allowing God to change me along the way? None of these are easy questions, but Eugene doesn’t try to hide behind easy answers. Contrary to the implied meaning of this blog’s joking title, Eugene Cho is not overrated, but some of us may be.
I would encourage all those who are seeking to love God and love people, to accept the challenge of reading this book. You can preorder a copy on Amazon, as well as check out the book’s website or check out Eugene’s blog if you’re not familiar with him.
I’ll leave you with a powerful quote from the book:
“Ideas, in and of themselves, don’t change the world. Rather, people who faithfully and tenaciously implement their ideas change the world. Women, men, and children who have the courage to pursue their convictions change the world. That’s you and me. It’s those who respond. For those who are Christians, worship isn’t just ingestion of good news—worship and discipleship begins when we respond to the revelation of God. When we choose to live out our faith.”