Page 2 – Leroy Barber – Everyday Missions
Although some may not find the concepts fresh, Barber’s book obviously still has plenty to offer. The single most remarkable thing about Everyday Missions, and I suspect Barber himself, is how well we get to glimpse how he has been gifted with story. He has an incredible ability not only to relate the stories of others, but also to draw new story meaning out of Biblical passages most Christians have heard many times over. Barber seems to be aware of this, stuffing most chapters with examples from his “dear friends” and with striking new ways of looking at scripture.
For instance, in chapter two, “The Myth of Extraordinary,” Barber explains the popular fallacy of comparing extraordinary people to those who are average (or even above average). This, he explains, leads us to see only two extremes: the elites and the failures. He calls this the “MJ Syndrome,” due to the apparent inability of any NBA player to compare to the excellence of Michael Jordan. The thing is, Barber explains, everyone falls short before God (Romans 3:10-12), and thus the only real excellence in is realizing that we can only do our best and He’ll make up for the rest. Barber, however, chooses to illustrate this first with stories of two Mission Year students who seemed prepared at the outset and but in reality weren’t, and only through trusting God were they able to learn. Then he brings up, almost as afterthought, the words shared by Pilate and Christ before the Crucifixion. Pilate, in the throes of elitism, states his power can save Jesus. Christ answers that if there’s any power, its from his Father. How crazy are we to even think that the things we can do can “save” anything for the Kingdom?
This is a book with something to offer for just about anyone who wants to explore the Christian faith just a bit more. Those who have been wandering down this path already might find that parts of the book aren’t necessarily new, while those who are just beginning will find a hefty challenge awaiting them. In either case, Everyday Missions is worth looking into because of Leroy Barber’s spectacular penchant for story.
C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com