8.14.14 BOOK REVIEW: “Overrated” by Eugene Cho
I just completed reading a pre-release copy of a new book, “Overrated” by Eugene Cho. For transparency, I want to share that I received a free digital copy of “Overrated” from David C. Cook Publishing in exchange for an honest review of the book, and I do not receive any compensation from you reading this review or pre-orders / purchases of the book in any way. In my role as Worship and Community Transformation Coordinator for New Mission Systems International, I attempt to keep my eye out for new resources, books and publications in regards to justice, missions, and poverty. I was thankful for the free copy of this book, and I hope this review shows you how I was inspired by Eugene’s story and work on behalf of the Gospel.
As stated on www.areyouoverrated.com,
“Eugene Cho is the founder and visionary of One Day’s Wages, a grassroots movement of people, stories, and actions to alleviate extreme global poverty. Eugene has been a featured speaker at events such as TEDx, The Justice Conference, and Catalyst. He is also the founder and Senior Pastor of Quest Church, an urban, multi-cultural and multi-generational church in Seattle, WA, where he lives with his family.”
5 Reasons you SHOULD NOT read “Overrated”:
1. DO NOT read this book if you are comfortable with your life as it is and are unwilling to change.
Eugene vividly confesses his desire to do good, but also his struggle to make changes in his own life. “I didn’t want to leave my comfort for the sake of my commitments.” (Pg. 22)
2. DO NOT read this book if you like the idea of changing the world more than actually changing the world, and are unwilling to change.
One of the most inspiring parts of the book is Eugene’s story of starting One Day’s Wages. His family’s decision to give up an ENTIRE YEAR’S SALARY as a model of sacrifice and generosity on behalf of the poor should call us all to action with a question of “what can we do?”. The result of his bold experiment was a grassroots movement that provides the platform for ordinary people to give just ONE DAY of their wages to building God’s Kingdom here on earth.
3. DO NOT read this book if you are interested in justice only because it is currently trendy, and are unwilling to change.
“We live in a world and culture in which – both out of privilege and conviction – many want to make an impact… While I want to applaud (really!) the desire and sincerity of people wanting to change the world, I fear that if we’re not careful, we might become …the most overrated generation.” (Pg. 29)
Eugene takes the time to digest the facts that while our generation is quick to tweet, share, and post facts about justice, statistically, we are slow to actually produce acts of service outside of the digital world.
4. DO NOT read this book if you are comfortable with your walk with Jesus, and are unwilling to change.
Many people in evangelical Christianity try to separate justice from The Gospel (some have even labeled it “the social gospel”), but Eugene defends the fact that “Justice was in Jesus” (Pg. 48) and reminds us that “For Christians, the gospel informs everything we do – including our understanding and praxis of justice.” (Pg. 48)
5. DO NOT read this book if you are unwilling to change.
My biggest take-away from reading “Overrated” was a call to action…a strong rebuke against just “talking” (or posting) about justice, and the implications of actually living it out. It has, and still is, causing me to re-examine areas of my life where I am wasting time. If you’re interested in some practical application, you may want to try THE 5-DAY CHALLENGE, available on the book’s website.
5 Reasons you SHOULD read “Overrated”:
1. Read this book if you believe The Gospel is good news for all.
Eugene challenges the idea that salvation is “personal”, and expresses our responsibility of building God’s Kingdom.
“If you truly believe in 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.” (Pg. 42).
2. Read this book if you have ever felt overwhelmed by justice and missions.
One book that Eugene references often towards the end of the book is “When Helping Hurts”. I remember the 1st time I read that book and the feelings of being crippled and hand-cuffed. I felt like anything I did on behalf of the poor would do more harm or would be scrutinized by a more “experienced” leader in some capacity. Years later, I read it again, and although I still don’t agree with all of their conclusions, I have found many of their cautions to be legitimate. “Overrated” found a good balance of inspiring love towards other people while also sharing stories of how harm can be done if we fail to build relationships with those we are helping. “Notice that in Matthew 25:21, Jesus didn’t say, “Well done, My successful servant.” Let’s be faithful” (Pg. 227)
3. Read this book if you believe in serving the “least of these”.
Eugene constantly points us to scripture, and an overarching theme through the book is a responsibility to care for the “least of these”. Scriptures such as Luke 4:18-19 and Matthew 25 are used to defend this stance.
4. Read this book if you are ready for a life of generosity.
“What will move skeptics, cynics, and critics are Christians who love God and love their neighbors…”(Pg. 50). Through first-hand experiences, statistics, and scripture, Eugene challenges us to use our finances, resources, and influence for Christ, rather then for selfish ambitions stating that we are the “rich young ruler” that is mentioned in the Bible.
5. Read this book if you are ready to change.
On a personal note, after reading many books on missions, justice and poverty ministry, “Overrated” can become a little repetitive, and actually un-original in some of the content (pulling a lot from themes discussed by David Platt, Francis Chan, Shane Claiborne and Tim Keller already) without additional, fresh perspective. In addition, the use of #hashtags within the book becomes a bit distracting, however, Eugene’s writing style and even some of the regurgitated content are not a reason to avoid this book because his personal interaction with the poor and his willingness to risk everything for The Gospel should inspire us all to a closer walk with Jesus. For those already heavily involved in the work of justice, some sections of the book may seem elementary, but stay with it, as Eugene does dig deep, and the treasures found are worth the read.
I hope this review has been helpful in your decision regarding the purchase of Eugene’s new book. Pre-order’s for “Overrated” are now available @ http://areyouoverrated.com.
For the least of these,