So my friend Eugene Cho’s book, Overrated, published last week. Why would I promote someone else’s book? Because I think we should live the golden rule, and because I think it is helpful to read what other writers are saying about justice. Eugene has something to say and he doesn’t pull any punches in saying it. Through vibrant stories, raw confession, and engaging humor, he challenges us to live a good story. Overrated cuts through the glamour of justice. More than a 140 character tweet, he argues justice requires sacrifice and personal change.
Overrated is directed toward a younger audience that Eugene believes may be more enamored with the idea of changing the world than in actually changing the world. While the #generation is enamored with justice, this justice rarely comes at a cost. Eugene challenges this 140 character tweeting world to go deeper. Justice requires sacrifice, becoming an expert in an area, and not just telling a good story, but living a good story.
Eugene shares his story of sacrificing a year’s wages to launch One Days Wages. He shares his struggles with starting Quest church, needing a job, and being turned down for work – even by Taco Bell. Eugene combines a witty humor with raw reality. He challenges our view of justice – it is not just a social good but “a central and critical aspect of God’s character and the gospel.” Social justice is of no value unless tied to the gospel. Social justice must mean loving your neighbor with the gospel. “To serve, advocate and care for a more just society.”
I certainly identify with Eugene’s challenge. My own justice story is one of sacrifice, challenge, and long-term commitment to intervening in the legal issues impacting the widow, the fatherless, the alien and the poor. These are the stories Eugene believes should be more prevalent among people of faith.
Eugene argues we cannot credibly pursue Christ unless we are actively pursuing justice as he shared on his guest blog post a couple of weeks ago. At the same time he argues we cannot do justice without being personally made more just. We must shut up, listen and pray. Overrated is not a feel good book. Eugene challenges our storytelling that aggrandizes our efforts at the expense of those in need. He challenges mission work that often does more harm than good by not empowering local people to be involved in solving local problems. He challenges the church and our continued separation of the gospel and justice. In short, Eugene challenges all of us to examine our lives, go deeper, and live justly.
Overrated ask us to allow the work of justice to change us. To live justly as we pursue justice. Much of the humor and examples will appeal to a younger audience and this is a great book to give someone in their 20’s or 30’s. However, it is valuable for anyone who is serious about their faith. As Eugene writes, “If you truly believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, then you believe that the gospel matters not just for your personal salvation and blessing, but also for God’s pursuit of restoration, redemption, and reconciliation of the entire world.” Allow this book to motivate you to a deeper pursuit of the gospel and justice. Take up Eugene’s challenge and
Go and Do Likewise!