Tim Chester has become one of my favorite authors. Within the last year, one work or another of Chester's has been in my hands. Chester has a profound gift for communicating deep theology simply and straightforwardly. He is not only a profound communicator, he is immensely enjoyable to read. Chester excels in devotional theology. The first book I read by him was his co-authored volume Total Church: A Radical Reshaping Around Gospel and Community. In Total Church, I saw passages of Scriptures brilliantly weaved together for an ecclesiology that was refreshing and convincing. Every book I have read authored by Chester since Total Church has, in some way, grown me theologically, and spiritually. Ordinary Hero was no different.
From the beginning of the book we are confronted with an intriguing reality. Chester notes that "when the New Testament writers tell us how we should live, they don't often point back to the life of Jesus. Instead, they take us again and again to the cross and resurrection" (pg. 7). From here, Chester demonstrates how our lives as Christians should reflect the model of Christ's life: cross and resurrection.
The book consists of five major sections:
I. The Pardon of the Cross: Humble Confidence
II. The Practice of the Cross: Sacrificial Service
III. The Pattern of the Cross and Resurrection: Suffering followed by Glory
IV. The Power of the Resurrection: Power to be Weak
V. The Promise of the Resurrection: Adventurous Hope
In part one, we see what Christ has accomplished in His death on the cross. Because of His work we can have a humble confidence and know that God is smiling at us. In part two, Chester demonstrates that the model of our living is in the work of the cross. If we want to live like Christ we must live like He did in death: sacrificial love, service and suffering. Part three shows us that although a new world has begun, there is still present suffering that will one day be followed by glory. Here is included an invigorating discussion of the Kingdom. Part four teaches that the resurrection provides energizing power, making our ordinary lives extraordinary. Through the power of the resurrection we are heroes, having the power to be weak for the purpose of serving. Part five discusses the intersection of the future earth and the present. It also includes some practical ways for us to live ordinary, extraordinarily heroic, lives.
This powerful little book is pouring over the brim with theology. One theological theme that is woven throughout the book is eschatology, the study of last things. I was greatly benefited by the captivating, exciting truth that Christians are kingdom citizens in an eschatological context. Chester writes, "The resurrection of Jesus was an eschatological event: it took place in the past, but it was also the first act of the coming age. The church is an eschatological community: we live under the reign of the future coming King. We're the place on earth where the future is already taking place" (pg. 8). I found the chapters discussing eschatology, community and mission to be especially rewarding and enriching.
As I read, my head was fed and my heart stirred at the wonder of the Gospel. I picked up Ordinary Hero intrigued by its message. I finished it convinced of its truth and ready to model my life after the cross and resurrection. It's a book that I plan on reading again soon. Real soon.
Ordinary Hero gets five scorching, hot, Hatch Green Chiles out of five:
You can follow Chester's blog here: http://timchester.wordpress.com/