I have enjoyed a number of books written or co-written by Tim Chester over the years, especially The Busy Christian’s Guide to Busyness which became the source for a number of seminars I have run on the topic (and a whole series on in tandem)
Two more of his books have sat on my shelf for ages. I finally got one down: The Ordinary Hero. I will say I started off on the wrong foot, because I thought I was picking up a book about Jesus - that he was the ordinary hero that we model our lives on, and picked it up because I was keen to read directly about Jesus again. While it is certainly based all about Jesus and how his death and resurrection shapes who we are, the ordinary hero talked about is each of us who live our lives centred around this fact. My mistake, but I think that’s why it took me a while to get into it and a while to get through it.
With that misunderstanding out of the way and some time to change my mindset, this really is a very helpful book. Chester focuses on the cross and resurrection through 5 sections:
- The pardon of the cross - that because of what Jesus has done in dying for us has shown us his love, given us humility for none of us deserved it; and then gives us confidence because there is no now condemnation for those who are in Christ.
- The practice of the cross - the way Jesus died in sacrificial service is to be our model for life - we are also to die to self and instead consider sacrifice, submission, self-denial, service and suffering to be what we are called to. In this we find joy and meaning
- The pattern of the cross and resurrection is to see that life in Christ is suffering followed by glory. This was Christ’s experience and it must also be our own. Christ was a king, yes, but a king who suffered and so to seek to avoid suffering ourselves does not recognise the pattern to which Jesus called us.
- The power of the resurrection - we see that the resurrection gives life and freedom, yet also the power to be weak for in the cross life comes through death and strength comes through weakness (p150)
- The promise of the resurrection is powerful hope - we await a truly resurrected world, of justice, love and joy. We await a promise that is worth dying for and worth living life differently now. He finishes with challenges to check again where your heart is, where your thoughts are and where your treasure is.
This is a book for all those out there who think their life does not matter, that their struggles in the Christian life are not worth it or there is really no point. It is also a powerful counteractive to the popular notion that Christians should not suffer now and should experience all their future glory in this present world. It will remind you of what your Saviour did for you and how in response our lives can be shaped by the cross and resurrection, for our joy and for his glory.