The God of the Mundane by Matt Redmond (Kalos Press)
Have you ever wanted to call it quits at your job? Have you ever wondered if God even cares for people like you who muster out a living working mundane jobs thinking that no one cares? To these questions comes a mighty rush of fresh air from the pen of Matthew B. Redmond, author of the new book entitled The God of the Mundane: Reflections on Ordinary Life for Ordinary People. Redmond narrows in on the focus of the book by writing, “The goal of the book was to comfort Christians where they were – to help people believe the mundane stuff matters” (1). Yet, what I thought was even more insightful was not so much the goal of the book but the audience he had in mind, the stay at home mom and the man stuck in a job making him feel small. Why? More than anything, I’ve been in that situation and often find myself wishing Monday would not come so quickly. I think Matt speaks for a whole host of men and women who often wonder if their lives matter, their faith makes any difference, and their jobs offer little reward.
In only 72 pages, Matt manages to pinpoint the pervasive problem that believers in Christ wrestle with from all backgrounds. We scrape by the work week looking ahead to the weekend, holding out the hope of what the future might bring. In our spiritual lives, the same future orientation fuels our quest for ‘the gospel of something else entirely’ (49). Matt writes with Mark 1:15 as a backdrop, “This changes everything. No longer is the gospel the promise of something else entirely. It is now the message of now. Now you are redeemed. Now you are living as a member of the Kingdom. You are disciplining your child, taking a bath, paying bills, and cutting grass as a member of the Kingdom of God and of his Christ….We have now the fellowship of the King. Every act is now of Kingdom consequence” (50-51). Any other gospel of the Kingdom that minimizes the mundane events of life is woefully inadequate. Often, though, we strive after spiritual high places in worship songs, devotions, or prayer, forgetting that God is in the midst of our daily routines. By doing the regular activities of life, men and women in union with Christ are pushing back the effects of Adam’s fall, showing to the world that God’s mighty Spirit is at work even in the disgusting and seemingly insignificant things of life. The gospel of entirely something else is too small to address all the concerns that a mother and a bank teller has during the week. Yet, the King of the Gospel calls people of all occupations and levels to show forth his glory in the cleaning of toilets and the accounting of taxes.
Lastly, Matt’s insistence that we read the story of God in the story of the bible rightly is a healthy stance to rest on. He writes, “Speaking of gardens: the first vocation was Gardener. Yet there are few vocations less-celebrated in our world. The first vocation was not a prophet or preacher,…Here we glimpse the God of the mundane at work: the God of gardeners and farmers, veterinarians and plumbers, landscape designers and zoo-keepers” (25). Who likes to get their fingers dirty all the time? Yet, it was God’s concern that Adam and Eve should be caretakers of the Garden of Eden, a special job indeed. We get a glimpse of the societal and cultural significance of Israel’s landowners in the Pentateuch as they provided food for their families and also widows, orphans, and the poor. God’s mercy is evident in the Genesis story as it is on the cross that Jesus died upon. God redeeming work does not seek to bring us out of obscurity but to provide salvation right in the midst of the ordinary and mundane. We finally see the ultimate way in which God gets his fingers dirty in the ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. Not only does he minister to those of lowly positions in society, but proclaims good news for the very people the surrounding culture despises.
Go out and buy this book, in fact, buy more than one copy for your friends, neighbors and co-workers. The message that God is present in the mundane details of life brings great hope and encouragement to believers. With a healthy eye towards the questions that we all face and a keen sense of the Bible’s storyline, The God of the Mundane is a message of truth in a sea of conflicting messages. With a hearty ‘Amen’ after each chapter, I was greatly impacted by the message of this book and hope that others will be too.
Thanks to Kalos Press for providing a complimentary review copy in exchange for review